My first time at a Cafe Gratitude restaurant was in 2009 at their premier location, in an area that was a little “off the beaten path” in San Francisco. The restaurant had a very colorful, earthy, laid back and eclectic vibe. The wall’s were covered with inspiration quotes, detailed murals, and their pledge to “Nourish a Thankful Community.” The servers and the people were warm and inviting and the restaurant was filled with a mix of hippies, young adults, nature lovers and foodie types. Their Venice Beach location doesn’t quite have that same vibe.
Located on a busy street in Venice, just blocks from the beach, the street is lined with bars, hip coffee shops, fashion boutiques, and condominiums. Cafe Gratitude Venice is situated in a huge residential building with the bonus to that being that there is free underground parking. You are greeted by a hostess and have the option of sitting at one of their many counter top bar stools, booths, tables, or outside on their large covered deck.
It’s definitely a more modern and hip unified version with simplistically styled decor, “uniforms” for all the servers that entail a v-neck shirt with the v-neck helping to spell out the work love, and most of your meals will be served in white dishes with the occasional teal dish served. The staff are friendly and accommodating but it does seem to be more of a rushed atmosphere. I guess that’s how it goes in the hustle and bustle of a big city.
Atmosphere and decor aside it’s the food that is the real star of this restaurant! Everything on the menu is 100% plant based and 100% organic. You literally can’t go wrong with anything you order, as everything is made with the freshest sourced ingredients and prepared for optimum health. Open from morning to night they have a huge menu including breakfast items, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, coffee, tea, elixirs, sparkling drinks, appetizers, wraps, bowls, pasta dishes, desserts, seasonal dishes, and even organic wine and spirits!
They offer both raw and cooked vegan dishes as well as gluten free options. If you make it here for breakfast they have both sweet and savory options. The raw open faced bagel is scrumptious but I could have easily eaten two! Looking for something on the sweeter side, you can’t go wrong with a Raw Crepe smothered in a creamy sauce.
One of my favorite meals is the Magical, a vegan burger that I get on the raw gluten-free wrap with avocado, macadamia cheese, and coconut bacon, it’s just bursting with flavor! During the winter one of their seasonal specials are sweet crispy brussel sprouts and we always get a dish to share.
Most of their bowls like the Indian-inspired Humble can be served over brown rice or quinoa for a more nutrient packed version. Pair your meal with one of their sparkling drink concoctions or cap the meal off with a warm creamy latte with my favorite choice being the Golden, a Turmeric latte with honey, turmeric juice and steamed almond milk (Caffeine-Free).
Right at the front of the restaurant they have a dessert care with a variety of pies, cakes, cookies and truffles. Don’t come here without trying one of their to-die-for treats, JP recommends the Key Lime Pie.
If you literally are in a hurry you can always grab a to-go item from the deli case. Cold-pressed juices, salads, wraps, and of course deserts are just a quick grab and you are out the door. We always get a cold-pressed juice to go, I love that they come in glass bottles and as a bonus I can use them to bottle my kombucha since the labels come off fairly easily!
Next time you are in Venice be sure to check out this hip and healthy restaurant!
After an intense workout, who doesn’t crave a thick and juicy burger? A veggie burger, that is! That’s exactly what happened to us the other night when my running partner and I had finished a 7-mile “hill training” run in the pouring down rain along the very steep and long causeway bridge. I could think of no other place than the Green Bar & Kitchen, an organic plant-based, non-GMO, mostly gluten-free eatery to satisfy our hunger in a healthy yet hearty way! gb&K is located at 1075 SE 17th St., in very popular and touristy east Ft. Lauderdale.
Although we hadn’t been there before, I was familiar with Green Bar & Kitchen from the stellar review written in the food section of our local newspaper several months ago. Since we don’t reside near there, it’s been a bit tricky trying to coordinate our training/work schedule with their hours as they’re open from 11 am- 9 pm every night except Sunday when they open from 9 to 3 pm. Managing to make it there just before closing, we scored at this elevated fast casual dining establishment, with it’s wide array of plant-based (many raw) appetizers, salads, bowls, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, desserts, juices AND beer!!! Unfortunately, owner Elena Pezzo wasn’t there at the time but I was able to follow up with her later. Elena’s heart-warming and inspirational story can be found on her website, www.greenbarkitchen.com. She follows the Hippocrates philosophy, “Let food be thy medicine.” Elena had originally started her plant-based cuisine journey on a food truck called Zenergy with her life partner Charlie Grippo, who holds a raw food certification from the Graff Academy in Atlanta, Ga. and is now the Executive Chef of Green Bar & Kitchen. And did I mention the restaurant is certified Vegan Kosher (Pareve)?!!
Upon entering, we were pleasantly surprised by the sophisticated “green” decor made from recycled/sustainable materials. Although the temperature was cold, especially since we were still a bit wet from our run, the atmosphere was rather warm and welcoming. We ordered our meals at the register, eyeing the dessert case in the process. However, we were told that the dessert items were made off premises by a separate baker with no listing of ingredients, so we skipped those for fear of hidden cashews, my running partner’s nemesis!
Having read about the famous GBK Burger Deluxe, $11.99, I ordered that without hesitation. We sat down on the funky bar stools and waited luckily, for only a few minutes for our meals to arrive. Made with brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, roasted veggies, sunflower seeds, garlic, lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo, all on a multigrain burger bun, it didn’t disappoint… perhaps maybe just its size. It didn’t seem as big as I am used to but then again, that could just be me simply suffering from America’s Gluttony Syndrome! The burger came with a side of homemade coleslaw and again…could’ve used a bowl rather than a ramekin…sorry…AGS again!
My running partner enjoyed the Smokehouse Burger, $12.99, similar to GBK Deluxe Burger, with the addition of parsley, spice mix, melted cheese, caramelized onions and barbecue sauce. We shared them both and LOVED them equally!!! Truth be told, we missed our beloved french fries, the perfect accompaniment to any burger! No spuds at greenbar & Kitchen. The joint may be a bit too healthy for this team of long-distance runners! My running partner washed down his meal with a rich IPA on tap called Crusher ($5.00), from our local Funky Buddah Brewery. There were many vegan-friendly bottled beers to choose from so I will grab one next time for sure!
We couldn’t resist the only organic dairy-free, nut free soft serve frozen dessert ($2.99) in South Florida, made from soy and tapioca. Typically, I try to limit soy-based foods from my diet but sometimes it’s unavoidable and in this case, it was absolutely necessary to share two ample portions of creamy, fresh and flavorful vanilla and carrot frozen dessert (coconut-based coming soon). I mean, how often do you come across plant-based soft serve?? We earned our calories that night and they were so worth it! As for their tonic bar, their creative take on juicing renders some nutritious and refreshing-sounding beverages but we typically would rather eat our calories. Not to say we wouldn’t try them in the future, especially if we dine there for breakfast, lunch or their Sunday brunch. Same goes for their one-of-a kind probiotic-packed kombucha on tap!
The only regret I have is that we didn’t splurge and split either the kale salad ($7.99/13.99) or one of 3 bowls made with whole grains and veggies ($10.99). Guess we have to go back for more bridge training! Word on the street is that an amplified menu is just around the corner!!! It’s so exciting to see the green bar & kitchen holding its own amidst all the typical fast food chains, like a flower in the dumpster! Best of all, GB&K will be expanding to include the Green Bar Express in neighboring Galt Ocean Mile.
As this VeGAL would say…train hard, eat hearty! Gotta run for now!
Andrea “VeGAL” Medalie
Posted by Danielle Bussone on Sep 17, 2014 in Asian, Vegan, Vegan Food Quest: Veggin' Out and About Southeast Asia! | 0 comments
SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA & VIETNAM
THREE COUNTRIES AND COUNTLESS VEGAN ADVENTURES!
by Caryl Eyers
Here it is, our latest Vegan Food Quest update where we can share some of our vegan food adventures from South East Asia. This month we were in 3 separate countries and yet again we didn’t go hungry as we searched out plant-based treats from around the globe.
One of our favourite places we visited was in Singapore, where we were lucky enough to visit VeganBurg, a healthy fast food burger restaurant. French fries seasoned with seaweed, cold broccoli sides and crunchy little ‘spinach pops’ were a healthier alternative to what you’d usually find in a fast food place.
But the star of the show was the burgers we ate with our favourite being the ‘Wasabi Mayo’, a vegan burger with alfalfa sprouts, edamame beans and a delicious wasabi vegan mayo. We really wish that these restaurants were everywhere across the world in replacement of some of the other fast food burger outlets that we see everywhere, even when we are traveling to exotic and far flung places. Imagine how much world health would improve if our go to fast food treats were plant-based? Imagine the lessened impact on the environment? We can but dream…
We spent a lot of time in Johor Baru in Malaysia but don’t have much to report back as we were mainly eating in our hotel who’s team of chef’s took up the challenge to learn to cook amazing vegan food for us. A couple of the things we ate really stood out from our time in Johor Baru, where we stayed at the new DoubleTree by Hilton. First was a little edible vegetable garden made with lentil soil, fresh herbs and crudités; a simple yet beautiful dish that was super healthy too, being packed with all those lentils and veggies. We’ll definitely be stealing this for our next dinner party menu!
The second dish was a rich, vegan coconut ice cream and baked apple dessert. We have never tasted vegan ice cream that was this good, so creamy with coconut. A real treat!
Before we knew it we were heading back to Kuala Lumpur where we took in a few sights but also discovered an amazing new restaurant that was all about healthy plant-based eating (called Ashley’s). We were really at home here, eating our way through the healthy juices, raw vegan food and healthy versions of local favourites like the famous Malaysian Laksa.
These raw vegan marinated eggplant rolls were stuffed with nut cheese then served on a raw flaxseed cracker with a slice of pepper were one of the best raw food dishes we’ve ever tasted. Heavenly.
We also loved the ‘Living Enchiladas’ with a zingy tomato sauce, soured nut cream and plenty of fresh organic veggies sliced up inside including jicama which tasted like a savory apple. It was wrapped in a raw, tomato and corn tortilla. Delicious.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city certainly has a growing healthy food scene, so it’s easy to eat healthily as a vegan here. After months of being in countries where we have been indulging in decadently rich food, sweet treats and fried snacks, it was a real pleasure to discover something that was so tasty but also so good for us. We were so happy to see that there are people all over the world that are joining the real food revolution and advocating a plant-based, whole foods diet to improve health and well being.
The third country that we’ve been searching for vegan food in this month is Vietnam. We started our trip in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and were desperate to get our hands on some famous Vietnamese Pho. There was a vegetarian restaurant right around the corner from our hotel and so we got to sample a vegan version of this normally meat based dish on our first night. It was so fresh and packed full of herbs and tofu. Needless to say, we love vegan Pho now!
It’s great to be back in this part of South East Asia where there is an abundance of Buddhist vegetarians (that are mainly vegan) and the food is light, spicy and fragrant. We’ll be staying in Vietnam for a month, mainly exploring Hoi An in Central Vietnam and Nha Trang in the South of this beautiful country. But first we have to take a long 17 hour overnight train heading North out of Ho Chi Minh City to Danang.
Join us again next month to see what Vietnam has to offer us traveling vegans.
The Boston area hosts several fine vegan restaurants, but True Bistro located in Teele Square in Somerville, Massachusetts, stands above the others. Opened in 2009, it has become a destination eatery that is distinguished by a calming ambiance and an eclectic menu that offers something for everyone, whether vegan or not.
True Bistro is situated on a busy downtown street but as you step through the door, you leave all the hustle and bustle behind. Although the dining room is small—it holds around 40 people comfortably—the high ceilings and large, light-filled windows give the impression of a spaciousness that belies its actual size. Original paintings dot the wall near the entrance, small vases of fresh cut flowers adorn the tables, and soft, soothing music sets the tone for a peaceful, unhurried meal. It is apparent that owners Michael and Linda Harrison have taken great care to create a tranquil environment where patrons can relax and feel welcome.
Posted by Danielle Bussone on Aug 20, 2014 in Vegan Food Quest: Veggin' Out and About Southeast Asia! | 0 comments
FROM LUXURY HOTEL MEALS TO FANTASTIC STREET FOOD ON THE CHEAP!
by Caryl Eyers
This month’s Vegan Food Quest has seen us discovering fabulous vegan food in Java, Indonesia. We’ve eaten everything from amazing fine dining vegan food in restaurants in 5 star hotels to cheap and tasty street food prepared on a cart at the side of the street.
Check it out! Miss Illinois 2014 Marisa Buchheit (a long-time vegan) is going to be performing at Veggie Fest on Sunday, August 10! “Being vegan has helped me to feel balanced and has given me incredible mental and physical strength,” says Marisa. Come to Veggie Fest to hear her sing, meet her in the children’s tent, and wish her all the best as she represents Illinois at the upcoming Miss America competition! VeggieFestChicago — Free Admission. Free Parking.
The closest thing to Broadway one can find outside of New York City, at least in the US, is the Barter Theater. The Barter, Virginia’s state theater, has put Abingdon on the map, making it a destination for tourists from around the world. One has only to attend a performance, any performance, to recognize the breadth of the talent that resides in this tiny corner of SW Virginia.
NEW LOOK, NEW LOCATION, SAME INTENTION
This June Whole Health Natural Foods store (aka Whole Health Center) opened at its brand new location in the heart of Abingdon. Conveniently situated between I-81 exits 17 and 19, the new location is nestled between neighboring restaurant 128 Pecan—a fun, casual spot with some vegetarian dishes and a vegan option or two—and the trailhead of the beautiful Virginia Creeper Trail.
The Seed Food & Wine Festival 2014 (SFWF) takes place this October in and around the beaches of Miami. This annual gathering celebrates spirits, craft beer, fine wine and all kinds of plant-based cuisine, while raising health awareness. SFWF is overjoyed about the support it is receiving from some of the biggest names in the vegan community.
The Seed Food & Wine Festival 2014 has signed up a stellar cast of celebrity chefs, authors and health experts to appear at the Festival, starting with the world’s leading raw food chef and best-selling author, Matthew Kenney; 2014 James Beard Award nominees Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby; and author Brendan Brazier, a former professional Ironman triathlete considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on plant-based nutrition.
MAKE PLANS NOW TO VISIIT VEGGIE FEST CHICAGO
ONE OF THE LARGEST VEGETARIAN FOOD FESTIVALS IN NORTH AMERICA
VEGGIE FEST CHICAGO RETURNS TO NAPERVILLE, IL AUGUST 9-10
(Naperville, IL) It’s almost time to fill up your car with your friends and family and head to the 9th Annual Veggie Fest, the largest vegetarian food and lifestyle festival in North America! With a huge international food court; health professionals speaking on diet, lifestyle, and environmental issues; engaging food demos by restaurant owners, chefs, and authors; an incredible children’s tent with face painting, clowns, and crafts; live music from some of Chicago’s best bands; and over 100 vendor booths to explore, it’s easy to see why over 25,000 people from around the world attended the two-day Veggie Fest last year.
And there’s even more you can do at Veggie Fest! If you’ve been curious about the vegetarian diet, you can sign up for the Vegetarian Challenge to receive free support, recipes, and tips for going vegetarian for 14 days. Thousands of people have felt the benefits of taking the Vegetarian Challenge, and you can, too! And while you’re having a great time at the festival, you also can give back to the community by donating blood or bringing non-perishable vegetarian items for our food drive benefiting People’s Resource Center in Wheaton. (more…)