I had been meaning to write this up in my final days in Houston but only now getting around to polishing up my recommendations. You will notice that most of my recommendations are not for vegan-only establishments. Those are few and far between in Houston and let’s be honest that most of my friends are not vegan and I like it when we can all enjoy our company and all enjoying eats together.
Without further adieu, here are my favourite places in Houston for vegan meals where there are also options that will satisfy serious non-vegans.
I originally encountered Green shortly before I switched to eating only vegan after a trip to San Antonio in 2011. Perhaps it was their scrummy dishes that reinforced I could totally eat vegan that made it easier to switch. Who knows, but what I do know is this Houston outpost is a vegetarian restaurant offering delicious vegan eats. They opened early in 2014 and I had many repeat visits. I recommend their sweet potato pancakes for brunch and their BBQ sandwich. I loved the filling so much, I would usually get the filling as a side to a protein bowl. YUM! In retrospect, my recent hankering for BBQ sauce may have been spurred by a Green craving.
Thai restaurants are usually friendly for vegan eats but this Thai eatery excels with fresh, flavourful and light fare with a whole vegan section on their menu (including vegan coconut ice cream). It was their seitan mock duck larb that inspired me to make these delicious Laotian Larb Tofu Lettuce Wraps, so at least I will have the ability to make this from miles away.
They may have changed their name to dgn factory, but they still serve healthy dosa stuffed with your favourite worldly combinations. Not just Indian masala, they have cauliflower Manchurian and even Mexican-inspired options. My standard order was the not-spicy spring veggie dosa hold the cheese with the vegan kheer for dessert. Yes, it was their kheer that inspired me to make this Chai-Spiced Rice Pudding. My friends raved about their authentic AYCE sambhar.
I loved going to Hugo’s. Mostly because my guests would positively rave about their food. They serve traditional but inspired upscale Mexican food. Think nopales and huilacoche. This is not standard TexMex. I think my friend still talks about the mole-stuffed cornbread. And that was a side. In any case, they have a vegetable-heavy vegetarian sampler platter (from their old menu so off-menu) that can easily be made vegan. Plus, once they know you are vegan, they will tailor the dishes for you. The churros: totally vegan but they will make sure there is no milk in the side of hot chocolate. If you call ahead they can make their refried beans vegan as well.
5. Radical Eats
This is a vegan resto that went omni after relocating to my former neighbourhood. They offer an overwhelming multi-course Sunday brunch which is a great way to sample their food. Meat options are available but I think the vegan meals would satisfy even the serious meat lovers. Comfort Mexican-inspired treats, I found their vegan desserts were stellar. Call in advance to see what they have available. For a while we tracked down their vegan tres leches cake until Rob was more content with the non-vegan but best tres leches in Houstin from El Bollilo. They also offer free drop-in vegan cooking classes on a monthly basis so pay attention to their Facebook feed for details.
This restaurant was already in Rob’s good books before we moved here as it was a favourite amongst our Houston friends. They have a handful of vegan options (I was partial to their uttapam and beet and barley salad since they were not too spicy). They serve fusion Indian food with options for everyone.
Have I missed your favourite restaurant serving vegan meals? Tell me more!
While it still feels like summer in Toronto, it is hard to believe Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. And as I was writing up my recipe for raw macadamia vanilla cream, I realized I never shared this fabulous recipe with you.
It still makes me smile that one of my co-workers, Abby, made a vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie with me in mind for last year’s Thanksgiving. Abby graciously let me take home all the leftovers which I enjoyed. Sadly, I was hoping to get better photos. I don’t think these do it any justice but figured I should still share the great recipe with you.
Pumpkin pies are ubiquitous in the US around Thanksgiving but this pie was better than your traditional fare. A mixture of both pumpkin and sweet potato purees with a custard texture from tofu worked really well here. It was perfectly sweetened with a hint of savoury notes from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe will make more filling than you need for one pie, which might work out nicely if you have a vegan friend who really wants all the leftovers. ;)
The crust was awesome, too, just a bit on the brown side, but with a spiced pecan background that worked well with the pumpkin pie. As I pay more attention to the recipe, it looks like Abby took some inspiration for the crust from my pecan-shortbread crust I used with a lemon-cheesecake. You may not even need to pre-bake the crust like Abby did, so keep that in mind.
Are you ready for fall yet?
Part of the allure for travelling to Madagascar and South Africa, other than the interesting animals (LEMURS! elephants! giraffes! rhinoceroses!) was the plant-life as well. I don’t like to scope out flowers (much) but I was excited to visit a tea plantation. Sadly, we were not in the right areas to visit vanilla plantations (Madagascar is the world’s top producer of vanilla) or cocoa plantations but we serendipitously stumbled upon fields and fields of macadamia trees in South Africa. Turns out South Africa is the second largest producer of macadamia nuts, after Australia where it is indigenous.
So in addition to the chocolate, vanilla pods and tea, Rob allowed me to bring home some macadamia nuts too. A nice change from cashews, they bring a brilliant white to its sauces and possibly more creamy with all its fat. This is great news for those without a high-speed blender: silky sauces are just macadamias away.
While the blogosphere feasts on the beginning of the fall produce (apples, pumpkin and my favourite: brussels sprouts), enjoy this berry-filled salad spruced with mint and topped with a creamy whipped macadamia cream. The vanilla is a pronounced flavour which countered the sweet berries well. Feel free to use it on top of your morning oats (see below), or as part of a parfait, or perhaps, more in keeping with fall, on top of a vegan pumpkin pie or fall-spiced hot beverage (pumpkin latte, pumpkin chai tea or hot chocolate, anyone?).
Are you ready for fall yet?
WOAH! Stop the presses. Where have you been all my life?
I always thought barbecue sauces were tomato-based. This barbecue sauce has no tomato in sight. Instead, the base is from mustard and vinegar. It is amazing what a little blackstrap molasses can do to herald a sauce into the barbecue family.
The ultimate barbecue sauce is probably a very touchy/personal topic for many, especially in the US, with each region having their own spin on their special sauce for grilling. While in Texas, I didn’t go for barbecue, but I seem to be homesick for my time in Houston and bringing the barbecue back to Toronto.
However, this is not Texas-style barbecue sauce, it hails from South Carolina. Mustard-loving Germans added a barbecue twist to their local sauce and it is wonderful. Not too sweet, a heavy hand with the vinegar and a perfect punch from the savoury spices. A perfect mix for me and my love of all things mustard.
I haven’t quite decided what to do with this sauce yet. I was originally going to toss it with some tofu and veggies and then bake it, but now all I want to do is keep it. Why use that all in one go?
What is your favourite barbecue sauce and what do you like to do with it?
Do you remember the soba noodle debacle? The time I bought oodles of soba noodles and then proceeded to leave them in the pantry and slowly, slowly eat through them. Yeah, I still have soba noodles and still eating through them. A true hoarder.
However, when the cooking rut continues, I get less picky in the kitchen. I have little energy to refuse the noodles. Plus, they are quick and easy to make. I added the cold leftover sauce to warm noodles and it melted right in. A little green garnish might be nice, too. Consider adding fresh chives, as recommended in the original recipe. Because you know, I would never suggest eating parsley. Yucko.
Nothing like a blog tour from a fabulous cookbook, to get me moving in the kitchen again. It also helped that the recipes are super easy and still delicious. I already told you all about OATrageous Oatmeals earlier but I am back for Kathy’s blog tour. This time sharing her recipe for Mushroom Ginger Congee.
Traditionally congee is made with rice to make a porridge-like consistency and flavoured and garnished with as much or as little as you want. I noticed Kate Lewis’ photo in the book had additional mushrooms and green onions as garnishes, so I added that to mine. Not merely photogenic, it added a nice depth of flavour, too. I think a bit of toasted sesame oil would be lovely, too. I was never super convinced oats could hold savoury flavours so well, but this was delicious. I used Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats because I knew I wanted them to have a bit more texture. They were delicious here.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what you like to do with oats. I will randomly select a winner on September 28, 2014. Good luck!
Allow me to be honest with you. I may have lost my cooking mojo.
I haven’t really been too interested in cooking lately. My life has slowed down a lot (physically, mainly) and my heart no no longer sings in the kitchen. One must still eat, so I am still cooking… although finding it a challenge to continue to blog consistently.
And then I made this hummus. I knew I had to share it right away.
I am no stranger to strange hummus concoctions but this one was really good. Spiced with sriracha with a depthness from red peppers, I really liked it. It wasn’t too spicy (for me!) so feel free to add more sriracha for your palate. I found this had a taste reminiscent of cheese but without any nooch, I think it was from the red pepper paste. This was nice and silky straight from the food processor. Sadly, it stiffened slightly as leftovers so either eat it all at once or add some more liquid as needed.
One of my more popular salads is my spin on Whole Foods’ Detox Salad. I used lime and cilantro to complement the riced vegetables. I named mine “Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro” because I cringe when I hear the name “Detox Salad”.
In general, I always assumed that the enzyme myth was in fact, just a myth….. until I saw this video. (That long pause is Dr Gregor’s hallmark, at least in my mind).
In this other video, De Gregor highlights the presence of sulforaphane in broccoli which enhances liver enzymes, as the most potent natural phase 2 enzyme-inducer. However, since sulforaphane is only created when two components interact, until you crush the raw cells (ie, with chewing or chopping), you miss out on sulforaphane. He later mentions that this needs to be done prior to cooking broccoli. Yes, the “enzyme myth” is true. Cooking is not as good for the broccoli’s sulforaphane levels.
But who likes raw broccoli?
To get the best of both worlds, a fun solution would be to chop your broccoli, wait a bit for the enzymes to work and then cook it.
And yes, this was my round-about introduction to this lemon-cilantro chickpea salad with almost riced broccoli, which I actually steamed for a gentler taste. Although, you are completely free to try this with raw broccoli rice, too. The lemon juice would make it tender, too, with time.
Poll time. Raw or cooked broccoli: which do you prefer? :)
Easing back into cooking in Toronto, I tried to highlight local, seasonal vegetables. We arrived too late to grow our own garden but we had a little help from family.
These cucumbers were courtesy of Rob’s mother’s garden and the tomatoes came from my sister-in-law’s parents’ garden. The dressing was a simple lemon-tahini-garlic combination that pretty much never fails. Although the twist was adding some olives. I don’t use them very often but it was an unusual and nice accent to the creamy dressing.
What are you growing this year?
In case you haven’t noticed, the past month has a whirlwind. An international trip, an international move, an international exam, while beginning a new job with many hiccups along the way (the funeral, the delayed pod, the broken car, the broken ankle, oh yeah). Suffice it to say, I had lots of things on my mind. I had to focus on other things and thankfully, I found a fabulous vegan delivery service to help take care of keeping me well fed.
Green Zebra Kitchen is a Toronto meal delivery service that comes to your door. All meals are vegan and gluten-free and they use only organic, whole foods with as much local, seasonal produce as possible. Run by brothers Gregg and Dan, they both trained at Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and know how to cook. Let’s just say I was blown away by their creations. Delicious, creative and healthy. I think I even learned about new ingredients (how could that possible be? – but it is true! Have you heard of nepitella?).
There are a few plans you can purchase, but there are always 3 mains and 3 sides and you can swap any in/out if any do not appeal to you. Furthermore there are extras if you would like breakfast items (ie granola, oatmeal, smoothies) and extra sides (sauerkraut, flatbread, kale chips, hummus) or dessert (like dark chocolate almond butter cups). I ended up with their Plan B, meant to serve 3-4 meals.
Let me share with you the delicious meals of the week:
Blue Tortilla Lasagna with Black Bean, Butternut Squash, Corn, Pickled Jalapeno, and Cashew Cheese
I am sorry my picture does not give it the credit it deserves because it was delicious. Blue corn tortillas were used to make a Mexican-inspired lasagna with a vegan cashew cheese sauce.
Which was paired with: Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds, Edible Flowers, and Lime Vinaigrette
Nice and light, this was a simple (and delicious) kale salad.
Tuscan Chickpea Tempeh Bowl with Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Mushrooms, Olives, and Nepitella
I originally thought there would be chickpeas and tempeh in here, but it was tempeh made form chickpeas. I didn’t even know that was possible but it was delicious. I only wish there was more tempeh!
Which was paired with: Yellow and Green Bean Salad with Beets, Roasted Chickpeas, and Italian Vinaigrette
This is where I got my chickpea-fix along with all the other beans. Nice and light, it paired well with the more flavourful quinoa bowl.
Massaman Thai Curry with Tofu, Red Pepper, Tamarind, Lime Leaves, and Coconut Milk
I found this a bit too sweet for me, but Rob loved it. He was bothered that there were no peanuts. Apparently peanuts are a quintessential ingredient for Massaman curry. That was Rob’s complaint the last time we tried making Massaman curry at home, so at least he is consistent. ;)
Which was paired with: Red Rice Salad with Shredded Broccoli, Carrots, Cashews, Cilantro, and Miso Ginger Dressing
Again, this was a nicely flavoured salad with not too much dressing. The ginger and miso were merely shades in the background.
Red Pepper, Walnut, Pomegranate Dip
Carrot Cake Balls
The next day, I accused Rob of stealing a ball but here I can easily tell he didn’t swipe one – I started out with 5! These were nice. A bit more moist than my typical dessert balls, but nice and light without being too sweet.
Mango Lime Green Smoothie with Collards and Banana (unpictured)
I have a picture of the smoothie at the top. It was sweet but I would not have known there was collards (or any greens) hidden in it by the taste. It was green but did not taste green.
The menus change weekly and all orders need to be received by Friday for Monday delivery. I have spied other meals including, but not limited to:
Tempeh Reuben with Cauliflower, Potatoes, Garlic Scape Dill Kraut and Cashew Cheese
Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Red Lentils, Preserved Lemon, Olives and Zhoug
Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Yams, Roasted Cauliflower, Basil and Fresh Tomatoes
Biryani Bowl with Tofu, Chickpeas, Broccoli and Tamarind-Coconut Curry Dressing
Coconut Corn Chowder with Oyster Mushrooms, Potatoes and Chickpeas
Baked Falafel Bowl with Broccoli, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Quinoa Tabouli and Tahini Dressing
Overall, I highly recommend the food. The meals are healthy and totally Janet-friendly.
As advertised, it easily feed 3-4 people and even more if you supplement with additional quinoa/rice/etc from home to stretch the meals further. The diversity is vast and truly, the only thing keeping me from ordering every week would be the price ($62+tax for the plan B). I wish they would open a restaurant so I could get a quick fix at random times throughout the week.
Have you ever used a meal delivery service? I think it is great for times when you don’t have time to cook or if you are travelling to Toronto for business and don’t have time to make/find your food or you want some great vegan options should you host a party (if you do that, please invite me over!).
Note: I was provided with a week’s worth of eats for my review. I ended up loving it so much I bought it the next week, too.
Thank goodness I got my share of summer while I was still in Houston. Spending a month in Africa was sunny, but still a bit nippy, and definitely not that green. Our first week back in Canada was hot and humid, but that was an anomaly. Toronto didn’t get much of a summer this year, either.
However, while I am no farmer, I think one thing that has benefitted from the rainy days has been the blueberries. The wild blueberries were unbelievably big this year and the cultivated ones, even more massive. Rob tried to warn me when I loaded up with some cultivated blueberries: They don’t taste that great, he whispered to me. Turns out they were big and blueberry-delicious. And I didn’t have to share them with Rob. Score! :)
Without restraint, I added them to my morning oats and carefully crafted this salad courtesy of Terry’sFrom Salad Samurai. A multi-component, main dish salad with a spinach base, filled with cucumber and blueberries, beefed up with Ginger Beer tofu and topped with sticky, sweet & savoury almonds with Chinese 5-spice. I tried to stay true to the recipe, but only changes were to decrease the tamari because it was an ever-present ingredient in nearly all the components. I also did not want to turn on my oven for the tofu, so I pan-fried it in its marinade. It wasn’t as crispy as it would have been baked, but still good. The star of the salad, other than the big blueberries, were the Chinese 5-spiced glazed almonds which were perfectly balanced with the tamari, agave and the Chinese 5-spice imparted an interesting edge that I did not expect to taste so good.
This was not my first salad from the cookbook and it will certainly not be my last. Because the salads are huge ensembles of dressings, flavoured mains and interesting toppings, it can be hard to settle down and make an entire salad. Terry has some tips to master your art of making heavenly salads throughout the week. I have been picking and choosing each component separately, although, I really want to make everything: Thai Seitan Larb in Lettuce Cups, Lentil Pate Banh Mi Salad Rolls, East-West Roasted Corn Salad, Green Papaya Salad with Lemongrass Tofu, Miso Edamame Succotash Salad, Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing, Kimchi Black Rice with Asian Pear, Collards and Sweet Potato Crunch Bowl… ok, ok, I will stop. I basically want to make everything. The recipes are grouped by season and feature salads with loads of flavour from lots of fresh vegetables (no kidding) but also fresh herbs and spices. Terry also has a fun chapter for sweet salads, including a coconut carrot cake salad and overnight oats with Mexican chocolate creme that are calling out for salads for breakfast and dessert, too. Trust me, I am looking forward to cooking through this throughout the whole year.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere in the world (since I will be shipping it). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite salad. I will randomly select a winner on September 5, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes from Salad Samurai shared elsewhere:
Third time was a charm. Rob and I finally got our internet at home this weekend. (YES!)
We also moved all our stuff previously stored in my brother’s basement.
I can no longer find my computer, though.
I mean, I know where it is, but it blocked by too many boxes to unpack.
OMG. We have a lot of stuff. I am truly a hoarder (of sorts).
Living a year without most of the stuff will make it easy to purge. Easier, I should clarify.
I am hoping to rebuild a decluttered home, but we have many boxes ahead of us. In time.
Otherwise, here are some quick and easy desserts to try. No need to wait too long for your mango to absorb any water, just blitz away. I added a touch of lemon zest to accentuate the sweetness of the mango. The coconut makes this luscious and decadent. These are more akin to a non-chocolate truffle in their consistency. I don’t think they would work well as a ball, which is why I put them in the small cups. Another alternative would be to pour the batter into a small square container and then cut them into your preferred size. Enjoy!
Hoarder or purger? Which are you?
I will hopefully become a ruthless purger.
So, it is late August. We moved back to Toronto at the beginning of August. Our stuff from Houston arrived, and our stuff we squirrelled away in my brother’s basement will be arriving this weekend. Unfortunately, one key link remains broken: the internet. We have been waiting for our internet to be installed for 3 weeks now.
I have internet through my cellphone but otherwise, our tap into the internet is dry. As such, I am *still* relying on oldie-but-goodie recipes I photographed earlier, lurking in my drafts, waiting for the right moment to share.
This was a delicious nut pate I made when I had access to fresh herbs in my garden. While I am not a fan of raw pates, I will concede that I wasn’t trying to make a pate with this meal. That is what happens when you over-process nut meat! I was aiming for nut-based Italian sausage crumbles, but with a few too many whirls with the food processor, it turned into a delicious, chunky spread instead.
This is no bland pate, though. First of all, I wanted to lighten up the nut meat by adding some mushrooms. I used oyster mushrooms because they have a very mild flavour and I dare say you couldn’t taste them anyhow. I pulsed the nuts (pecans and Brazil nuts) with a handful of fresh herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme and sage. It was the last-minute addition of sun-dried tomatoes that added not only a great burst of flavour, but also turned my sausage crumbles into a pate.
There are countless ways to enjoy this spread and I originally ate it solo, stuffed into a bell pepper. For leftovers, I smeared it into a collard wrap topped with assorted spiralized or thinly sliced vegetables (zucchini, beet, carrot, cabbage) and a beautiful sprout garnish. I almost didn’t photograph the haphazard (leftover) collard wraps, but Rob urged me to reconsider. They were definitely pretty, too, and mighty tasty.
Sorry for a not-too-appealing photo, but trust me, this was very tasty. This was the other meal we packed for our travels.. aka, we made with the remnants in my fridge in Houston but it tasted downright delicious. Quick and easy, I used the last of the vegan chorizo, leftover rice and emptied the can of small red beans I had been saving in the cupboard. A bit of tomato paste to make it saucy and a dash of Old Bay seasoning to complement the flavours from the chorizo.
After it tasted so good, I also had to photograph it in Africa. While dreaming up a descriptive name, I realized it was uncannily similar to Cajun Rice and Beans. In my mind, I must have known the flavours were akin to my previous Southern black eyed peas with tomatoes, where I also substituted Old Bay for Cajun seasoning. Perhaps a mirepoix of celery and bell pepper (and less tomato) would make this more authentic, but for shear simplicity and flavour, this was great.
Do you prefer authentic recipes or simply delicious recipes?? :)
I am sharing this with Speedy Suppers.
Lately my meals have been a lot of random foods. I am holding out. I knew I had some staples waiting to be unpacked but quickly replenished my perishable staples (tahini, peanut butter, maple syrup, etc). As such, the last few weeks have had me cooking without spices, relying on strong-flavoured ingredients and let’s be honest, I bought some pre-made soups and added some beans to make it a complete meal.
I promise to share some of my fun meals once my home is back to normal. Until then, I will continue to unearth some oldies-but-goodies from my backlog. I chose to share this one because it is actually pretty similar to what I am eating these days: cooked quinoa, random vegetables, beans, topped with a creamy sauce.
What is your template for healthy lunches?