by Deanne Bryce
During a road trip between the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park , my husband Steve and I spent one night and morning in Phoenix. In search of a place to enjoy lunch after a morning visit to the Desert Botanical Garden, we found Desert Roots Kitchen (DRK) through an online search for organic foods. We discovered on arrival that Desert Roots Kitchen is 100% vegan. Their menu changes daily and they make everything from scratch in-house (except the dolmas). Desert Roots Kitchen cooks with many organic ingredients, especially staples like beans, lentils, produce, etc. They support and use local ingredients when possible, which is increasing and constantly evolving.
Since the restaurant is 100% vegan, no animal products are used nor brought into the restaurant. The restaurant menu is mostly gluten free by default and they are mindful when preparing foods that contain gluten to avoid cross-contamination.
We ordered red lentil tomato veggie soup with crunchy celery and an olive hummus plate served with fresh pitas, tomato, cucumber, and carrots. The dominant spice for the soup was black pepper and perhaps some cayenne. The chef at DRK didn’t overuse soy as many vegetarian and vegan cooks do as an easy trick for adding protein. The protein came from beans, chickpeas and lentils… yes all good sources of protein with the added desirable fiber content to our diets. Steve had the wrap of the day which was a mixed bean burrito with enchilada and sweet corn sauce. Being a restaurant trained chef he is hard to impress but he too enjoyed the flavor combinations. His two sides were lemon tahini kale rice with chickpeas and red cargo rice with mushrooms, green beans and water chestnuts.
Desert Roots Kitchen purchases a weekly Farmbox from Sunizona Family Farms (‘veganically grown’) and are a pick-up location for Farmbox orders. DRK also uses some local distributors, and are increasing use of local produce and products such as flours, beans, nuts, etc.
There is no indoor seating as this is principally a take-out establishment. The owner explained: “We have patio seating outside and no seating inside. Almost half of our customers come in for pick up. We have about 20 seats outside and sometimes people eat in the gazebo (I call it overflow seating). It hardly rains, but if and when it does, we have a canopy to protect the patio and stay dry while eating outside. The canopy also serves as a nice shade as well as cooling misters for the hotter months.”
The chef said in an interview after we ate there, “Sometimes we purchase local produce at the farmers markets. All produce grown locally is organic, but not always certified organic. That is ok with me, as I support local businesses and prefer locally grown products, whether officially certified or not. It costs a lot to be certified, and as long as it is truly non-gmo, a label or certification is unnecessary to me.”
When I asked about the oil they use in any preparation, the chef explained: “We use little to no oil at DRK. We are a class 4 cold kitchen, which means we do not have a hood, gas, or facilities to prepare certain ways, mainly cooking wth oil. We cannot/do not saute or deep fry. With our facilities by default, we use less oil than majority of restaurants. Many dishes such as quinoas, lentils, raw dishes and more, contain no oil at all. And the ones that do, we use vegetable oil (never canola oil), or olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed, and safflower.”
If you find yourself in the Phoenix area this restaurant is not far from Arizona State University at Tempe and about 10 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport . If you put the address in you map device you will arrive at location of a mixed-use complex. The restaurant does not have much if any indoor seating. The owner found a way to make DRK comfortable with service and outside patio seating.
A MARATHONER’S GUIDE TO FOOD AS FUEL!
As a runner who has been around the block a few times, I have often heard the phrase…”I want to start running to lose weight but I hate running!” And that’s when I quickly reply, “then if you hate it, don’t do it!!!” I say that because although runners, no matter the distance, seem to develop a love/hate relationship with the sport, at the end of the day, the love, passion and dedication are at the core of every successful runner. It is indeed possible that this strenuous activity can grow on you, but if you haven’t caught the running bug at a certain point, chances are, you may never fully embrace the sport to the extent of seeing noticeable results and worse, you run the risk of resenting it altogether.
Ethiopian is one of my very favorite cuisines so you can imagine how excited I was to learn of a new restaurant opening in Charleston, SC, only two miles from where Rich and I stay when we visit the area. Ethiopian Taste Food & Coffee is located on Dorchester Road in a little strip mall just off exit 16A on I-526. Alas, our first visit occurred before the Ethiopian Taste Food & Coffee had actually opened their doors for business. Our next visit fell on a Monday when the restaurant is normally closed. Drat!
The third time was the charm! We were welcomed by owner, Nitsuh Woldemariam, and her husband, Arega Kebede, who works as an engineer by day and restaurant host by night. Arega is excited about Nitsuh’s new venture and works along side his wife to help her to succeed. Ethiopian Taste Food & Coffee is not a fancy establishment. It is a cheerful, welcoming place where a family can spread out and get comfortable. The floors are painted concrete and Ethiopian pictures and artifacts adorn the walls. The food is prepared by Nitsuh’s mother and is comprised of longstanding family recipes.
Rosetta’s Kitchen is a plant-based restaurant with a mission. Rosetta’s is not only dedicated to serving healthy whole foods but is also determined to feed the hungry. Every day a red beans and rice dish is prepared at cost for those in need. The price is a sliding scale according to what an individual can afford to pay. If someone can’t pay the minimum suggested price, they may ask for a food voucher which was donated by previous customers who have paid something extra so that all may eat.
Located off exit 5A from I-240, Rosetta’s front entrance faces Merrimon Avenue just as you are coming off the exit ramp. There is no parking in the front so you must turn left onto Merrimon, take the next right onto Woodfin Street and then another right onto N. Lexington Ave. It’s isn’t as complicated as it sounds. There is parking on Lexington and also in a lot across from Rosetta’s. Be sure you put your money in the meter because the police patrol this area often, including the parking lot.
Clearly the gods were with us. Rich and I arrived at Mela’s minutes before the lunch crowd overtook the place, and a parking spot opened up for us right next to the restaurant. Entering, we stepped into an inviting, spacious room and were greeted by a gracious hostess. Directly before us was a bountiful buffet bar of mouthwatering Indian specialties in which fully half of them were vegan! Everything is made from scratch at Mela, from as many organic ingredients as possible and locally sourced when available. Many of the dishes are naturally gluten free. The price for the buffet was $9.95. Add chai tea or a beer from the full bar and the cost is $12. One can, of course, order off the menu during the lunch hour.
Ordering the buffet was a no-brainer. With a profusion of colorful and fragrant temptations we could contain ourselves only long enough for Rich to order a beer and we were off to the buffet bar. By the time we returned to our seat, the restaurant was jammed packed with enthusiastic diners and filled with laughter and conversation.
Located on the Charles River, six miles northwest of Boston, Massachusetts, Watertown is one of the oldest cities in the state and boasts a distinctive multicultural population. Armenian, Irish, Italian, Canadian, and Greek immigrants have enriched the town’s history—and cuisine—and the main street is dotted with ethnic restaurants and markets. Red Lentil stands out, however, as the only eatery in Watertown dedicated to serving vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free foods. Inspired by the ethnic diversity of the city, master chef Pankaj Pradhan creates delicious dishes drawn from Indian, Moroccan, Mexican, Italian, Latin, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cultures.
Because we are amateur genealogists, we frequently visit Mount Auburn Cemetery, a national historic site located about a mile down the street from Red Lentil. We had heard glowing reports of the restaurant, so we decided to check it out after our morning walk at Mount Auburn. Our friends’ recommendations were not exaggerated. (more…)
VEGANS HAVE NO ENDURANCE? SAY, WHAT…?
As an endurance athlete (VeGAL!), I am proud to say that a whole foods (with the exception of French fries), plant-based diet has contributed greatly to my success over the years. Not loving to toot my own horn, I feel it necessary to make my point. As a ranked runner in my division in the state of Florida, I have recently completed my 31st full marathon. In addition, I have done 2 ultra marathons (another in 2 weeks) and countless shorter distances like half marathons, 10k and 5k races. I ran the both the Boston and the NYC Marathons twice! I also earned a black belt in Northern Shaolin Eagle Claw Kung Fu. All utilizing plant fuel! Not too shabby, huh?!!! So, for anyone to even question my endurance would be absurd. Yet, surprisingly, I still encounter skeptics from time to time. My hope is that through my accomplishments, I am able to touch the lives of fellow athletes, or even just one, perhaps even enough to inspire them to make the leap to a plant-based lifestyle as well.
Posted by Danielle Bussone on Feb 7, 2014 in Features, Vegan Food Quest: Veggin' Out and About Southeast Asia! | 1 comment
by Caryl Eyers
So here begins the Vegan Food Quest, my search for vegan food around the globe. I’m traveling with my husband, who after many years of living with me has become somewhat of an expert in seeking out of food I can eat. So, he’s been recruited to be in charge of logistics, which plays to his strengths of being super organized, observant and adventurous all at the same time. After months of planning and packing and a few weeks of emotional goodbyes, we left our home in England and flew to Bangkok where as soon as we stepped off the train from the airport, we were bombarded by all sorts of smells and sounds from the busy streets which were packed with people cooking food, selling their wares and going about their daily business. Its an experience that I will never tire of.
Bangkok is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we love the life and energy that it exudes: its busy, noisy, hot and dirty and its packed with people. It’s a thriving city that presents opportunities to eat the most amazing food in all sorts of different places.
Plant-based is the name of the game in this all vegan restaurant in Asheville, NC. Everything in this restaurant is plant-based, hence the name, Plant. There are no animal products of any kind available in this cruelty-free, environmentally friendly and health conscious establishment. Of particular note, there are no genetically modified products in any of the foods prepared at Plant.
Plant management has made a commitment to use only the finest ingredients available. Therefore, much of what you are served will be organic, to the extent it is available, and are sourced as much as possible from local farmers. Chef and co-owner, Jason Sellers, is fanatical about finding organic, quality ingredients. He has been instrumental in convincing other local chefs to buy organic products so that food venders will readily carry them.
Rich orders a dark beer hailed from a local brewery, a Coffee Stout, with a smooth character and a suggestion of chocolate. I’m driving, so I order a cup of hot water which is delivered in a steaming mug with slices of lemon. A separate teapot of water is also placed on our table for refills. Our waitress, Lisa, brings us a small dish of shredded purple potatoes, pickled in mustard seeds and sesame oil, and garnished with micro-greens, a perfect combination of sour and spice. This was a fitting preamble to a meal designed to delight the senses. (more…)
Posted by Danielle Bussone on Feb 5, 2014 in Features, Profiles and Articles: Plant Strong People and Businesses!, Vegan | 0 comments
What is a VeGal and Why Would Anyone Want To Be One?
“VeGAL,” according to founder Andrea Medalie, “captures the essence of the female as it pertains to health, nutrition, fitness, beauty. As women, we have our own set of unique issues. VeGAL deals with issues and concerns unique to women. It is a delicate balance at best. When you factor in our plant-based diets, our health issues and nutritional needs along with our strong beliefs pertaining to animal rights and the environment, it becomes very complex. We need to have a resource in which women can come together, unite and offer each other support, information and inspiration.”
VeGAL embodies women of all ages, all disciplines, all levels, and all sizes who want to maintain a healthy vegan lifestyle and remain active.
VeGAL is the brain child of Andrea Medalie, a marathon runner and an official marathon pacer for Marathon Pacing, Inc. To date, Andrea has run 31 full marathons; that’s 26.2 miles of road beneath her feet with each marathon! A pacer is a runner who carries a flag and runs a consistent pace so that runners entered into the marathon who wish to finish at the pace she has set, need only follow Andrea to achieve their goal. “It so incredible to watch someone complete their first marathon.”
Andrea didn’t begin as an athlete. Throughout her life she struggled with weight loss, eating disorders and body image issues. She was unhappy and saw food as her enemy. She battled anorexia and bulimia for several years. “A lot of vegan women athletes come from eating disorders,” says Andrea. “It’s not uncommon.” Andrea has been a solid vegan for five years. Before that she was vegetarian leaning towards veganism (which she refers to as “vegan inspired”) for twenty years.