Vegan Options at Happy Trails Café, Alvarado Station on the Virginia Creeper Trail!

 

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

Happy Trails Café in Alvarado Station, Virginia is smack dab in the middle of the Virginia Creeper Trail between Abingdon and Damascus, VA.  The famous Virginia Creeper Trail is named after a railroad that ran between Abingdon, VA to Whitetop Mountain in North Carolina, spanning three states on what is now 34 miles of biking, hiking and horseback riding trails.

What is unique about Happy Trails is that they offer vegan options! Since there isn’t a single place in Abingdon or Damascus where we can find a plant-based meal, it is rather astonishing to find something to eat in this out of the way diner. The owner, Gwyn Hill, is a darling. Her partners/co-workers are her husband, Travis and her son, Logan, her parents, Loretta and Harvey Johnston, and her mother-in-law, Fran Hill, making it truly a family affair.

 

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There are several plant-based options on the menu and Gwen often offers vegan specials. The first thing I noticed was the sign for boiled peanuts. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m a boiled peanut fanatic. Rich and I scarfed down an order while awaiting the rest of our meal.

 

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We couldn’t think of celebrating the Fourth of July without the traditional hotdog, vegan of course, with relish and sweet onions and a side of fried chips.

 

Vegan Hot Dog

Vegan Hot Dog

 

We ordered the Big Honkin’ Veggie Wrap, a flour tortilla layered with house-made hummus and stuffed full of fresh vegetables from local farmers and dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.

 

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The Big Honkin’ Hummus Wrap

 

On a subsequent visit, I discovered I could replace the chips with a fresh side salad for a healthier version.

 

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The Big Honkin’ Hummus Wrap with a side salad instead of chips

 

Rich and I also shared a Loaded Veggie Wrap, which is wrapped in gluten-free rice paper, stuffed with fresh veggies and served wit a lemon-vinaigrette. This wrap is made surprisingly sweet by the house-made sweet onions prepared by Gwen from a prized family recipe. It really is something special.

 

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On our next visit we tried the Veggie Quinoa Salad, crisp, garden fresh vegetables topped with the now famous pickled sweet onions.

 

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Veggie-Quinoa Salad

 

We enjoyed our meals in a small dining area next to the kitchen. Outside are plenty of tables underneath a sunscreen as well as numerous bike racks and plenty of parking. Across the street is a public park next to a lovely stream. There are pavilions with tables for dining and even swings to relax in underneath.

 

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Small indoor seating area with lots of tables outside, plus a park across the street bordering a stream with covered eating areas.

 

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This day’s veggie special was a veggie burger which comes with two sides. The menu board also features a delicious juice of beets, apples, carrots and ginger. I watched as one customer’s eyes popped open wide as took a sip from her friend’s glass. She immediately ordered one for herself.

 

Happy Trails Café is perfectly located and is a welcome oasis in the middle of our 17-mile bike ride. Rich and I are becoming regular customers and, so far, Gwyn and her charming family do not disappoint.

 

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle  directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

 

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Danielle’s Meatless BBQ pulled ‘pork’ made from Jackfruit WJHL 11 Daytime Live

 
 
 

Danielle Bussone demonstrates how to make Vegan “Pulled Pork!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note from Danielle: In the video I misspoke and said to add 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar. It is actually 1/4 cup! Oops! 🙂 Full recipe attached.

 

Ingredients:
2 16oz cans Green Jackfruit in brine
¼ cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Southwestern Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder or Chipotle in adobe sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 – 1½ cups Barbecue Sauce (see Time For Change) or any commercial BBQ sauce

 

Method:
Drain and rinse in cold water. With a fork pull the wedges of jackfruit apart until it resembles pulled pork. (It is much easier if you microwave the jackfruit for 30 seconds or steam it in a tablespoon or two of water first.)
Transfer to a covered skillet or sauté pan.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently.

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to products I use that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 

 

Jackfruit can be found in most Asian and Indian markets, probably at a better price than you can find on-line. However, if you don’t have these markets in your area or prefer the convenience of delivery to your door, this is good option.

 

 

This is a brand that I enjoy and is a reasonable price. I haven’t found an organic source for this product to date. This product doesn’t have high-glucose corn syrup and is overall the best among the available brands within the same price rang. You may be able to find this at you local grocers but, if not, this is an option!

 

 

This may be a better choice. Simply Organic brand is widely available at most grocers, but you may have a little more difficulty finding the chipotle powder. When buying hot peppers, it is important to find them organically grown if at all possible because many of them are sprayed with pesticides which also contain neurotoxins. Better to be safe than sorry!

 

Liquid Smoke is far less toxic than actually smoking your food over smoldering wood coals. A little of this goes a long way and is an essential ingredient if you want your dish to really taste like pork without resorting to cooking animal protein. This product is widely available in your local markets. The remaining ingredients can also be found at most markets, so there is no need to list them here.

 

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Danielle Teaches Hands-On Ethiopian Class At Plant Based Cooking Summit at Lake Lure In October

 

 

Danielle Bussone, author of Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health! shares her journey in plant based cooking with Veggin Out And About!

 

 

Danielle has a passion for ethnic cooking. Since many cultures have naturally vegan components, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

 

 

Danielle is particularly interested in Ethiopian cuisine and is currently writing a book on healthy vegan Ethiopian cooking. She is very excited to be able to teach participants of the Plant Based Cooking Summit how to prepare a delicious six-course Ethiopian meal from start to finish, complete with injera, the spongy, sourdough flatbread that is a staple of Ethiopia. And here’s a Veggin’ Out exclusive not on the video; she hopes to have a sample of home made T’ej, the Ethiopian honey wine, for everyone to sample!

 

 

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Terri Edwards to be a chef instructor at the Oct 9, Plant Based Cooking Summit!

 

 

PCRM licensed Food For Life instructor and founder of Eat Plant Based, Terri Edwards, will be one of the chef instructors at the upcoming Plant Based Cooking Summit in Lake Lure, NC this coming Oct 9th!

 

 

Terri explains how a plant-based diet has empowered and healed her.

 

 

Simply Amazing Burgers, Wraps, and Salads are on the menu in Terri’s class.

 

 

 

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Chef Whitney Ross Will Be Teaching Plant-Based Cuisine At The Upcoming Plant-Based Food Summit!

 

Chef Whitney Ross, graduate of the University of Tennessee Culinary Program and Co-Owner of the Dinner Bell Fresh Food Truck in Knoxville, TN, tells Veggin’ Out and About! how he became interested in plant based cooking.

 

 

Whitney and his partner Rebecca are excited about the opportunity to be teaching cooking in small hands on groups.

 

 

Whitney focuses on serving meals that people unfamiliar with plant-based eating will find satisfying.

 

 

 

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Green Truck Neighborhood Pub Serves Up Vegan Options In Savannah, GA

 

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

Green Truck Neighborhood Pub isn’t just a great place to find a plant-based meal in Savannah, it is a community experience. We arrived early for lunch on a Wednesday and the place was already packed. Rich and I were disheartened to learn there was a 30 minute waiting list, just our luck. We were en route to another destination and couldn’t hang around. But, just as we were about to leave the waiter mentioned there were two seats at the bar. Bingo! We were seated immediately.

I was surprised to find Green Truck so busy considering how large the dining area is. We were elbow to elbow at the bar where our orders were taken and place settings appeared out of thin air.

 

Green Truck Exterior

 

Green Truck

The Original Green Truck; the Namesake, a 1965 Chevy Stepside is a metaphor for hard work, a long road, and enjoying the journey.

 

There is a pride that exudes from the staff and for good reason. This is truly a community effort. Local farms provide grass fed hormone-free beef (still a boo from all us vegans) as well as  produce in season.  Local Perc Coffee, provides the coffee served at Green Truck. The furniture, bulletin boards and booths were either made from local artisans, or were salvaged. Local print shops created the menus and t-shirts, the beer comes from artisan brewers within the US, and everything that can be recycled or composted from restaurant is. And if this kind of social responsibility isn’t enough to tempt you to eat here, check out the menu.

 

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The Mighty Veg With a Side of Vegan Chili

 

Rich ordered the Mighty Veg Burger topped with sliced tomato, avocado, grilled onions and red pepper with a side of homemade vegan Chili, dill pickle and crostini. The breads, salad dressings and sauces are made in house, including the ketchup. It was a beautiful presentation and OMG delicious! We always divide our orders so we can enjoy the entire meal. The burger was plump, flavorful, and moist, and did not fall apart as I bit into it.

 

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The Mighty Veg Up Close and Personal

 

I ordered the Veggie Reuben, which is also the Mighty Veg burger sandwiched between slices of homemade Rye and topped with zesty Saurkraut and homemade Thousand Island dressing. I ordered a salad on the side. Normally it comes with Swiss cheese, but we opted to omit it. It wasn’t your typical Reuben, but it was really good. As usual, we divided the sandwiches and shared, so we both won.

 

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The Vegan Reuben Close-up

 

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The Vegan Reuben With A Side Salad

 

Green Truck doesn’t have a lot of veggie options, but what they do have is outstanding. If you are ever in the Savannah area, it will be worth the effort to check out Green Truck Neighborhood Pub.

 

Green Truck Interior

Interior

 

Green Truck Micro Brews

Bar offers a selection of 30 micro brews in bottles and 6 on tap From American craft breweries owned and operated in the United States, as well as a number of wines in bottles or by the glass.

 

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Sweet Savor African Restaurant

Sweet Savor Exterior

Sweet Savor Interior

En route to Jesup, GA , we stopped in Charleston for an overnighter. Just down the road from our hotel, we discovered Sweet Savor African Restaurant, a Nigerian restaurant that is located in exactly the same location as now defunct Taste of Ethiopia, one of our all-time favorite Ethiopian restaurants. It’s a cautionary tale, use it or lose it. If we don’t support these marvelous ethnic restaurants with our patronage, they disappear, along with their amazing vegan options.

 

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Sweet Savor is certainly not a plant-based restaurant but it does offer a few plant-based options. This cuisine is based on healthy whole foods like beans, grains and fruits. The spices are definitely understated so don’t expect exotic flavors. The food is simple and hearty. The owner is a lovely Nigerian woman who is willing to work with customers to see they have everything they need. If you find yourself in North Charleston, check out Sweet Savor and discover the hearty food of Nigeria.

 

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Chef Leslie Haas Talks about the Upcoming Plant Based Cooking Summit

 

Certified PCRM Food For Life Cooking Instructor & eCornell graduate in Plant-Based Nutrition, Leslie Hass, talks about the upcoming Plant Based Cooking Summit to be held in Lake Lure, North Carolina this October. As a cofounder of The Eat Smart Live Longer Club, her community’s interest in a plant-based lifestyle  grew from 60 to 600 participants.

 

 

Leslie says that people understand the value of a plant based lifestyle and the the interest is there. What she feels is needed is hands on experience in plant-based cooking and that’s what people will be getting at the Plant Based Cooking Summit.

 

 

In this last segment Leslie explains what she likes about plant based cooking and what you will be able to learn from her.

 

 

Register Now

 

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Rawtopian Bliss, Rawsome Dining in Columbia, SC!

 

 

by Michael Wilkins

 

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Traveling can be difficult when you are on a vegan diet. Finding places that cater to your needs rather than being an afterthought on a carnivorous menu is a challenge. In order to find some of these great places you need to be diligent in your search. One such opportunity came up as we were traveling to Tega Cay to see my granddaughter. We did a search on Google, Yummly, and Trip Advisor for vegetarian/vegan eateries and found a place called Rawtopian Bliss. We decided to take a chance and experience something new.

 

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The restaurant was easy to find as it was right off I-26. Our decision led us to a fantastic place not only to eat, but to learn about the mission of Chef Saa. We thought we were walking into a vegetarian/vegan eatery, but we found out that it is much more than that. Chef Saa changed her life approximately 20 years ago when she began her spiritual and vegan journey. Both of her parents were suffering from diabetes and she did not want to have the same issues in her life. She made the choice to switch to a vegan lifestyle and began a spiritual journey that eventually led her to founding Supreme Love and Light.

 

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This is a ministry that is dedicated to holistic health. This organization is a nonprofit entity supporting healthy living. Their goal is to support wellness and whole health by encouraging natural healing, healthy food intake, herbal cleansing, stress management and spiritual awareness. They offer education about all of these things through workshops, classes, retreats and instructional demos. All of the money taken in by their ministry goes to support the maintenance and administrative costs for the mission of Supreme Love and Light Natural Path Ministry.

 

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Tempeh Bliss Burger

 

Margie and I sat down at a table and began to peruse the menu. We were very excited about the offerings. All of the items on the menu are whole food plant-based. Most of them are 60 – 90% raw. Margie chose the Tempeh Bliss burger with chips and cheese. I chose the shepherd’s pie with side salad. The Tempeh Bliss burger is 80% raw. The tempeh is marinated, breaded and lightly sautéed. It is served on a flatbread created by Chef Saa and accompanied by grapeseed oil veganaise, lettuce and tomato.

 

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

 

The shepherd’s pie is prepared with the savory sausage created by Chef Saa. It also has a cheese created by her, and the whole thing is wrapped in a tortilla shell and lightly toasted with a sweet and savory sauce. It comes with a side salad.

 

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This was a great experience in a pleasant atmosphere. We had a chance to sit down with the owner and speak with her briefly about her journey. When she made the decision to change her life, she left a corporate job taking a buyout which allowed her to start her ministry. It is her feeling that there is an awakening happening surrounding food and health. Her mission in life is to bring this message to people and help them improve their lives both mentally and physically. She offers culinary classes on a variety of different subjects and you can even do an internship, learning how to be a raw chef. I almost jumped at the chance. This harkens back to her training at a Body Ecology Life-Sciences Attunement Center in Greensboro, where she spent much time learning how to be a raw chef.

 

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There are many ways to tap into wellness while being coached by Chef Saa. They range from a transitional program for raw or vegan lifestyle to detox and rebalancing your body. She also does some free classes to encourage individuals of lesser means to improve their life and health. If you’re driving through Columbia on I-26 then this is a must-stop. We have placed this in our GPS and plan on stopping here a lot since it is on the way to my daughter’s house. It is exceptionally gratifying to run into individuals who are dedicated to causes such as this. Even if you do not have a chance to come to the area and experience Rawtopian Bliss, I encourage everyone to support their cause.

 

Michael Wilkins is a respiratory therapist, an avid scuba diver and an accomplished photographer. He has been living with hepatitis C for more than two decades and is a cancer surviver. Michael has kept liver cancer at bay by employing the healing properties of a plant-based diet.

A year later, after a strict plant-based regimen, his tumor markers are normal and his MRIs are clean! This has made Michael more passionate about staying on a vegan diet. He has met lots of wonderful passionate people with amazing stories while walking down this path. Michael’s area is Northeast Florida, particularly the Jacksonville area. Contact Michael to share your restaurant finds, make comments, or just to say hello!

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Danielle’s Foolproof Quick Injera

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

Well, I’ve finally done it! After three years of experimentation, I’ve come up with a foolproof Ethiopian injera recipe that is quick and easy. Granted, it does not have the complex, sourdough flavor of the long-fermented injera that takes days to prepare. But it is so close to it most people, even those who are Ethiopian aficionados, can not tell the difference. For those of you who are purists, I’ll have the longer, version in my book slated to be published late this summer. In fact, I’ll have several methods of preparing injera with varying degrees of difficulty and varying concentrations of whole grains. I will also have two gluten-free versions, so there is something for everybody. If you are craving Ethiopian food and have some sourdough starter on hand, this is a bread you can create from start to finish in as little as 40 minutes.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup teff flour, 160 grams
1 3/4 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour, 230 grams
1 cup sourdough starter 250g
4 cups water (945g)
1 tbsp baking powder, 12g
1 tbsp organic corn starch, 12g

 

METHOD: 5 minutes to make batter, 1-2 min each for injera (14 minutes for 7) About 20 minutes total

 

Teff, a vital ingredient in good Ethiopian injera, is a very nutritious grain from Africa and is possibly is the tiniest individual grain in the world. Injera is an Ethiopian flatbread with a consistency somewhere between a crepe and a pancake. It is spongy and flexible with a sour flavor which perfectly compliments the savory and spicy Ethiopian stews that are served on it. The injera not only is your plate in an Ethiopian meal but also serves as the eating utensil. You just tear off a piece and fold it over a mound of stew on your plate, pinch off a bite and pop it into your mouth. When you are finished with the stews, you eat the plate which has become saturated with the delicious juices of the stews!

 

I am told by every Ethiopian chef I’ve met that it is virtually impossible to make Injera using 100% teff in the United States. No one seems to know the reason but it is assumed that it has something to do with climate and humidity. This is my version, which is quite comparable to the best of the Injera I’ve eaten in Ethiopian restaurants.

 

In a blender add 4 cups water and 1 cup teff flour. Blend on slow initially just to combine ingredients. Use a rubber spatula if necessary to scrape the dough from the sides of the blender. Test the teff by rubbing a bit of wet dough between your fingers. In the beginning, it feels grainy like a fine, wet sand. Turn blender up gradually until on high speed. Blend for one to two minutes. You can tell when the teff is ready when it is no longer very grainy. It will never be perfectly smooth but will be much less grainy than in the beginning.

 

Add all-purpose flour. Blend on low to combine. Turn off blender and scrape sides. Resume blending on high only long enough to remove lumps, 15 to 30 seconds. Do not over-blend. Add sourdough starter and blend to combine. While the blender is still running, add baking powder and cornstarch. Gradually increase speed to high and blend for 30 seconds.

 

Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

 

Heat a non-stick skillet with a lid on high heat. It is ready when a drop of water on the surface of the skillet sizzles and burns off quickly.

 

Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into the hot pan and tilt the pan on all sides unit the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan. The amount of batter you use depends upon the size of your pan. I use a 12″ flat-bottom skillet with straight sides with a lid.

 

Cook on high heat for 15 seconds or until holes form on the top of the pancakes and the batter begins to firm. Cover and continue cooking until the edges of the pancake begin to lift from the sides of the pan and begin to curl. Depending on the heat of your stove, the entire process should take 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. As moisture accumulates on the inside of the lid, wipe it off with a paper towel so the moisture does not drop onto the injera and cause gummy spots. The pancake should be filled with little holes the Ethiopians call “eyes”. The injera should also easily slide in the pan when shaken.

 

Slide onto a clean cloth on a countertop or table. I like to use flour sack towels. While the injera is cooling begin another in exactly the same manner. When the injera has cooled completely, you may stack them on top of each other. The injera must be completely cooled, not room temperature but rather cool to the touch, before they are stacked. Otherwise they will stick together and become unusable.

 

Note- if for some reason you have accidentally folded and edge of the injera over itself while transferring to the cloth to cool (It happens to the best of us.), allow it to cool slightly before attempting to straighten the injera. If you do it while still hot, you will make a gummy spot on the injera. If you let it cool a little, it will lay flat when you pull on it with little or no harm to the bread.

 

This recipe should make eight to ten 12-inch injeras, depending on how thick you make them. One should be used as a the plate for Ethiopian stews. The rest should be rolled up like cigars and served on the side. These will be used to eat the stews by pinching the stews between pieces of injera. Then just pop it into your mouth! No utensils, no problem!

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to products I use that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 

 

I don’t know how I ever lived without a Vitamix. This is an excellent product and lasts a very long time. It is multi-functional and aside from injera, it makes it possible to make creamy cheeses from nuts and ice creams, which are virtually impossible with a regular blender or a food-processor, as well as sauces, soups and much more. I use my Vitamix every single day and have for the past eight years. It’s still going strong!

 

 

This isn’t the exact sauté pan I use but it is nearly identical. The one I have been using for years is no longer available, so I’ve found one that will work well for you. I like the high sides of this pan. It makes it a little harder to slide the injera out of the pan, but the sloped sides of other pans give you less surface area to work with and you end up with smaller injera. It’s your choice. If you follow the directions in my video, you shouldn’t have any problems using this pan.

 


 

I always use earplugs when working with loud electrical appliances. This is a great, inexpensive, reusable set that has a box to store them in as well as replacements for when you wear yours out. They last a very long time and are washable. Rich and I keep a pair for each of us in the fold-out drawer below our sink so they are always handy.

 

 

I’ve been using this Taylor food scale for years and I have to say I really like it. It reads both in ounces and grams and allows you to reset the scale each time you add an additional ingredient, or want to weigh an item without weighing the bowl.

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