Miso Soba Soup with Seitan & Bok Choy

Miso Soba Soup with Seitan & Bok Choy

You guys all know by now that I’m a noodle addict. Spaghetti, ramen, zoodles… as long as there are noods, I’m a happy camper. I’ve been on a soba kick lately after scoring a good deal on a big package of 100% buckwheat soba noodles from a local Asian grocery store. Compared to traditional pasta, soba is lower calorie, higher in protein, and higher in fiber. I could never give up pasta and ramen, but I plan to make soba a staple in my kitchen as it’s healthier, tasty, and very versatile. One of my favorite ways to enjoy soba is with a super easy miso broth, and this recipe below makes a quick lunch/dinner for one!

I use red miso paste as it has a stronger flavor. Some grocery stores only carry white miso, so you may have to do some searching. The sliced seitan can be substituted with tofu or tempeh, but I do love how the seitan soaks up the broth like a sponge. (Portlanders can pick up some great seitan steaks in the freezer section of Food Fight Grocer.) I always pick baby bok choy over the fully grown version as it’s sweeter and more tender. It just needs to be blanched for a couple minutes, don’t cook it to a mush.

Miso Soba Soup with Seitan & Bok Choy
Makes one bowl of noodles

Ingredients
1 bundle of buckwheat soba noodles
1 tbsp oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tbsp red miso paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 heads of baby bok choy, trimmed and separated
1/2 cup sliced seitan
Sriracha, optional

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse the soba noodles with cold water, then set aside.

In the same pot you used to cook the soba, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the water or vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Add the soy sauce and miso paste, then stir to dissolve.

Bring the broth to a boil. Add the baby bok choy and cook until tender, about 2 minutes tops.  Remove the baby bok choy with tongs and a colander.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the sliced seitan and simmer until it’s heated through.

To serve, place the soba noodles in a bowl. Top with the sliced seitan and baby bok choy, then ladle the broth over everything. Drizzle with sriracha, and enjoy!

Universal Studios Hollywood, Part 1

Hogwarts Express, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood

When we visited Los Angeles last month, we spent a day at Universal Studios Hollywood. The biggest attraction at the park is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you should definitely plan a visit.

Your First Stop at Universal Studios
I recommend getting to Universal Studios as early as you can and going straight to Harry Potter world before it gets too crowded. You’ll quickly realize that almost everyone has the same idea. Once you’ve stepped foot into Hogsmeade, you’ll be warmly greeted by the train conductor of the Hogwarts Express. He’s a friendly guy who will happily pose for photos and selfies.

Hogsmeade, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood

Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey
Even though we were tempted to browse the shops, we hurried over to Hogswart Castle to take advantage of the shorter morning lines for the Forbidden Journey ride. It was a 20-minute wait, but there are plenty of themed decorations inside the castle to keep you entertained along the way. The ride itself is really fun, but I thought the dementors were kind of cartoonish. If you plan on going for another round, take the single rider line. We walked straight onto the ride for round two and round three.

Butterbeer, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood
Pumpkin Juice, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood

Vegan & Vegetarian Options
I know you’re going to ask me if I tried the butterbeer. Sadly, I did not as it comes with a dairy-based whipped cream, and they will not serve it without the topping. I also hear that it’s insanely sweet, which doesn’t sound very appealing to me. There’s supposed to be a vegan butterscotch soda available in some of the Hogsmeade shops, but I didn’t spot it while I was there. There’s also a pumpkin juice that is made of real pumpkin (not just some random squash) if you’re looking for another vegan friendly option.

There’s a Peta article circulating the interwebs that mentions veggie dining options. One of the restaurants is supposed to have a vegetarian plate (that can be made vegan if you omit a couple ingredients), but I didn’t spot that on any menus when I visited and didn’t feel like waiting in line to ask about it.

The Shops of Hogsmeade
We didn’t do any shopping, but it was fun to browse the shops. From chocolate frogs to wizard robes, everything that you’ve read about in J.K. Rowling’s books and seen in the movies is here. (Yes, Honeydukes does have some vegan treats! You just have to check the ingredients carefully.) Some folks even dress up in their wizarding outfits to hang out in the park. Don’t confuse them with the performers of the frog choir, which was quite entertaining.

If you splurged on an interactive wand at Ollivanders, look for the gold medallions on the ground that mark magic spots for you to use your wand. Or you could just hang out the gold medallions until some kid with a wand happens to wander over.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios HollywoodThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood

Hogsmeade in the Evening
Before you leave the park, stop by Hogsmeade again for the evening experience. We popped into Ollivanders wand shop to take a peek and managed to catch part of the Triwizard rally performance too. Not a bad day with Harry Potter and friends!

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Old Tree Gin Cocktail Party

Old Tree Gin cocktail party, Portland, OR

This post is in collaboration with Old Tree Gin.

What comes to mind when you think of gin? Vintage cocktails? Mid-century details? Hors d’oeuvres? I recently attended a cocktail party featuring Old Tree Gin, a locally crafted spirit inspired by the elegant forests of Oregon. The striking warm color immediately sets Old Tree Gin apart from other gin brands, and its smooth and lush mouthfeel makes it a great fall and winter sipper. I normally don’t enjoy spirits neat, but the botanical flavors of Old Tree Gin make this one enjoyable on its own or in a cocktail.

Old Tree Gin cocktails: Blood Orange Tom Collins, Pear Gimlet, Gin & Tonic
Old Tree Gin cocktail party, Portland, OR

Our cocktail lineup included a blood orange Tom Collins, pear gimlet, and classic gin & tonic. There was also a Singapore sling in a tiki glass that I somehow missed in my photos. The winner for me was the pear gimlet. We threw a pod of star anise in there to pretty it up, but after letting it sit for a while, the star anise added a nice touch of spice.

Pear Gimlet
Ingredients
1-1/2 oz Old Tree Gin
1/2 oz pear brandy
1/2 oz simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 star anise pod

Shake with ice, strain into glass, float star anise. Sip, enjoy, repeat!

Old Tree Gin cocktails: Blood Orange Tom Collins, Pear Gimlet, Gin & Tonic
Old Tree Gin cocktails: Blood Orange Tom Collins, Pear Gimlet, Gin & Tonic

You can’t have a cocktail party without snacks, right? Our group pulled together a lovely spread of bites and nibbles to go with the gin. I brought a vegan red pepper cashew dip and crackers. I’m amazed that an entire red pepper only produced a faint orange after it was blended with the cashews. The non-vegan folks snacked on kimchi deviled eggs, plum upside-down cake, and a smoked gouda and cheddar cheese ball.

Vegan Red Pepper Cashew Dip
Ingredients
1-1/2 cup cashews
1 large red pepper
3/4 cup soy milk
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper

Soak the cashews overnight. Drain and rinse. (Alternatively, you can boil the cashews for a few minutes to soften them if you didn’t get a chance to soak them.)

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You can add 1/4 cup more soy milk, if necessary, to achieve the right consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or heated over low heat. Serve with crackers, chips, or veggies.

Old Tree Gin cocktail party, Portland, OROld Tree Gin cocktail party, Portland, OR

Note: This post is in collaboration with Old Tree Gin. I attended a tasting event that showcased their product. This was not in exchange for a positive review and all opinions expressed here are my own.

180, NE Portland

180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland

Last weekend, the #pdxbrunchgirls crew hit up 180 for their 1-year anniversary! I’ve seen so many photos of this spot on Instagram, and it was about time I paid them a visit. 180 is the first Spanish xurro shop in Portland. They specialize in made to order xurros and indulgent xocolata handcrafted from locally sourced ingredients. The name, 180, comes from the temperature that their xurros are fried at: 180 degrees celsius.

180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland

It was yet another gloomy, chilly day in Portland, and stepping inside the yellow-accented xurro shop quickly cheered me up. I immediately understood why this place is all over Instagram: the large windows flood the space with natural light and the pops of yellow throughout the space are brilliant. See for yourself…

180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland
180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland

It’s not immediately clear from the hanging menu, but they do have vegan options. I asked the cashier, and she confirmed that the classic cinnamon and sugar dusted xurros are vegan, as well as the chocolate covered bañados xurros. The classic xurros are sold in sets of three, while the bañados are sold individually. I ordered both of those, but passed on coffee as I had already been well caffeinated at home.

180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland
180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland

Non-vegans are spoiled for choices, from nutella filled xurro bites, to xurro rellenos, to custard filled xuixos. And if that isn’t enough, there are several dipping sauces available. This place is xurro heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. Pro tip: round up some friends and order a bunch of different things for a yummy spread!

180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland

As tempted as I was to play ring toss with my xurros, I’m glad I was able to resist the urge. Just biting into a xurro sends sugar and cinnamon flying everywhere, so grab yourself some napkins. Or maybe I’m just a messy eater, hah! You can’t go wrong with the classic cinnamon and sugar dusted xurro: light, crisp, not too sweet. The chocolate covered bañado is great too, but perhaps not the most photogenic. Three xurros was plenty of sugary goodness for one meal, and the fourth made it safely home for later… when the sugar high dies down.

180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland
180 Xurros & Xocolata, NE Portland

180 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Green Smoothie Bowl

Green Smoothie Bowl with Genesis Juice Ginger Lemonade

This post is sponsored by Genesis Juice.

I love a good smoothie bowl. I mean, how can you not, when smoothie bowls are the perfect balance of healthy and pretty? When Genesis Juice asked me to whip something up for a healthy new year, the image of a vibrant green smoothie bowl immediately popped into my head! I’m usually more of a berry smoothie kind of gal, but with Greenery being Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year and my new year’s resolutions to eat more greens still fresh on the mind, I decided that kale would be a fitting complement to Genesis Juice’s Ginger Lemonade.

Before you balk at a kale smoothie, give this recipe a chance! I love kale, but I can only handle so much of it in a smoothie. The flavors from the lemonade and other ingredients balance the flavor of the kale. The lively hint of garlic and sweetness of the agave in the lemonade add a nice finishing touch! Even my husband, who is happy to eat kale, but refuses to drink kale smoothies, drank his share without any complaints. Kale yeah!

Green Smoothie Bowl with Genesis Juice - Kale, Apple, Banana, Ginger Lemonade

Green Smoothie Bowl
Makes two smoothie bowls

Ingredients
2 frozen bananas
1 apple, cored
5 large kale leaves (discard the stems)
1 bottle of Genesis Juice Ginger Lemonade
Toppings: chia seeds, blueberries, coconut flakes

Combine the juice, frozen bananas, apple, and kale, in a blender. Blend until smooth. If you don’t have frozen bananas, you can use regular bananas and add ice to achieve the right consistency. Transfer to bowls and add toppings. Enjoy immediately.

Green Smoothie Bowl with Genesis Juice Ginger Lemonade

Note: This post is sponsored by Genesis Juice. This was not in exchange for a positive review and all opinions expressed here are my own.

5 Days in Los Angeles, CA

Downtown Los Angeles, California

Earlier this month, we took a trip to LA to escape the Portland winter. Much to our dismay, it rained while we were there, but we still caught some much needed sunshine. It has been over 10 years since I visited LA, so everything felt very new to me. And of course, our itinerary was planned around restaurants we wanted to visit!

Accommodations & Transportation
Staying at Airbnbs was the way to go as hotels in LA can cost a pretty penny. The one we stayed at in Downtown LA (and has a nice view from the rooftop!) was conveniently located a few blocks from a Metro station. Obviously, LA’s Metro can’t compare to the NYC subway system, but it got us to wherever we needed to go within a reasonable amount of time. As much as people say you need a car to explore LA, we didn’t rent one until the 4th day of our 5-day trip. We still experienced our share our crazy LA traffic.

Universal Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles

Theme Parks
On this trip, we visited Universal Studios and Disneyland. As you can see, we made a new friend who really likes coffee and donuts! I’ll be writing blog posts about the vegan and vegetarian options at both theme parks, plus tips on how to make the most of your time there. Stay tuned!

Crossroads Kitchen, Los Angeles

Crossroads Kitchen
After a long walk down Melrose Avenue, Crossroads Kitchen was the perfect spot for a weekday lunch. To be honest, I was expecting more casual setting instead of plush booths, white tablecloths, and elegant fixtures, but I’ll happily take it!

Impossible Burger, Crossroads Kitchen, Los Angeles

At the moment, Crossroads is the only place in LA that carries the Impossible Burger, and they only serve it for lunch/brunch on weekdays. The burger features heme protein, the ingredient that gives meat its meaty taste, but is also found in plants. The Impossible Burger totally lives up to the hype! Definitely in my top 3, and possibly number 1, but I’d have to do a side by side comparison with some of my other faves to be sure.

Chicken & Waffles, Crossroads Kitchen, Los Angeles

Turns out the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had is vegan! Drizzle on that spicy maple sauce and take me to my happy vegan place. Getting the $20 bottle of bubbly with a carafe of grapefruit juice was a very wise decision too. Something tells me Crossroads Kitchen can expect to see us next time we’re back in LA.

Little Pine, Los Angeles, California

Little Pine
I have no idea how many steps we took, but we made our way on foot from Melrose Avenue to Silver Lake over the course of the day. Little Pine has been on my list for a very long time. It’s a 100% vegan, mostly organic bistro that donates all of its profits to animal welfare groups. It’s also owned by Moby, a longtime vegan and animal activist. We didn’t see Moby there, but they do play his music.

Mushroom Bourguinon, Little Pine, Los Angeles, California

The food at Little Pine is all sorts of fabulous, but it was so dark inside the restaurant. Without my camera, we wouldn’t have gotten such a good look at our food. The fried cauliflower with kimchi aioli was great as a shared starter, and John enjoyed the sausage & polenta. I was all about their mushroom bourguignon with fluffy mashed potatoes and juicy crimini mushrooms!

Grand Central Market, Downtown Los Angeles

Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market is a major foodie landmark in Downtown LA. I vaguely remember coming here for tacos way back when I was a teenager. It’s pretty lively around the clock, and you might have a tough time getting a table on the weekends. I love that food halls offer options for everyone regardless of your dietary needs and restrictions, but we came here for one thing…

OG Ramen, Ramen Hood, Grand Central Market

Ramen Hood
It’s not everyday that you come across a 100% vegan ramen joint, and this one even offers vegan eggs. Ramen Hood’s sunflower seed broth with kelp, shiitake, and miso is creamy and tasty without feeling heavy. The noodles were good, though not amazing. The king oyster mushrooms were too tough for my liking. The vegan egg is all looks. I’ll give them credit for attempting a vegan egg, but I wasn’t crazy about it. (I guess there’s nothing quite like a chicken period.)

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles

The Last Bookstore
I wasn’t up for doing much that evening, but I’m glad we popped into The Last Bookstore. It’s an independently owned new and used bookstore located in a gigantic loft space. You could easily spend hours in here flipping through books, and don’t forget to visit the labyrinth upstairs. Lots of great photo ops, like the tunnel of books, but it’s tricky to get photos when it’s crowded. The rare book annex has an incredible gallery wall.

Chinoise Salad, Au Lac, Downtown Los Angeles

Au Lac
Don’t be fooled by the strip mall-esque exterior of this place, Au Lac offers vegan Vietnamese fusion in a lounge-like space. Some folks were all dressed up for dinner here. The staff seemed overwhelmed by the Saturday dinner rush and completely forgot about our table for a while. They redeemed themselves with the food though. Fresh, clean flavors. I didn’t try the chinoise salad, but it was a hit with John. I opted for the raw vegan Bun 33 noodle dish, which did not disappoint. Healthy, but still very satisfying.

Ropa Vieja, Mojo Wings, Equelecua Cuban Cafe, Los Angeles

Equelecua Cuban Cafe
Who would have thought that there would be a little cafe near LAX with an all vegan Cuban menu? At Equelecua Cuban Cafe, we happily chowed down on ropa vieja and their mojo wings with garlic sauce. Vegan Cuban is not new to me, but this is the best veganized version that I’ve had so far. There are a number of car rental companies nearby, so next time you pick up a car from LAX, swing by Equelecua for a delicious time.

Gardens at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles

The Getty Museum
Visiting the Getty Museum was one of the highlights of our trip, and we were graced with beautiful weather that afternoon. Even if you don’t have time for any exhibits, the gardens make the Getty worth a visit, but that’s a longer story for another time. I’ll leave you with that one photo for now.

Vegan Scene, Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Vegan Scene
Strolling down Venice Beach is nice, and it’s a shame that we didn’t get there before the sun had set. But if you’re looking for a cute boutique (not along the boardwalk, but a short walk away), check out Vegan Scene. Home to all things vegan, including some of my favorite cruelty-free brands like Angela Roi and Matt & Nat. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet Katrina, an adorable gray and white kitty who is their Head of Customer Outreach. She wouldn’t stay still long enough for a photo!

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California

Plant Food + Wine
This sleek, sexy restaurant by Matthew Kenney is what plant-based fine dining dreams are made of. The patio seating at Plant Food + Wine looked cozy, but we opted for a table by the fireplace in the minimalist dining room. The Plant Bowl was tasty, especially the bright orange pepper romesco sauce. The butternut and potato gnocchi was both beautiful and enjoyable. We usually skip dessert at restaurants, but everything on the dessert menu sounded so temping. The Banana Split Parfait was heavenly! Highly recommend this spot for an upscale meal in the Venice Beach area.

Butternut & Potato Gnocchi, Plant Food & Wine, Venice Beach

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Three Ways to Use Bilberry

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This post is in collaboration with Bilberry.ae.

You guys know that I love all things berry, so you can imagine how excited I am to team up with Berryfect to showcase their bilberry powder! You read that right: bilberry. That’s not a typo while attempting to type “blueberry”, but a closely related berry with a similar appearance. However, bilberries are much juicier, packed with more flavor, and higher in vitamin content. Unlike the blueberry, the interior of a bilberry is completely blue.

At Berryfect, they’ve taken these tasty Finish berries and transformed them into a berry powder. Of course, nothing beats a fresh bilberry, but the powder allows you enjoy the taste and benefits of bilberries on the go. Next time I travel, I’ll be tucking a few single serving bilberry packets into my purse. It’ll be a fun, healthy way to spruce up some sad airport food. Bilberry is the star berry over at Berryfect, but their full collection features other berries as well. You can order Berryfect berry powders online.

Berryfect Berry Powders

So, what can you do with bilberry powder? Obviously, it can be sprinkled over anything from oatmeal and yogurt, to soy milk and pancakes. You can even add it to baked goods like muffins and cake. To show off the vibrant flavor and color of bilberry, here are three easy recipes!

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Bilberry Smoothie Bowl
Smoothie bowls are all the rage these days on Instagram, so naturally, I had to make a bilberry bowl. This recipe uses my go to apple, banana, soy milk smoothie base, and the bilberry powder add a beautiful color to it. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even use the powder to do some detailed sand art on your smoothie bowl!

Ingredients
2 frozen bananas
1 apple, chopped
1 cup soy milk
3 packets of Berryfect bilberry powder

Combine the bananas, apple, and soy milk in a blender and blend until smooth. (If you don’t have frozen bananas, you can use regular bananas and add some ice or frozen berries to achieve the desired consistency.) Add 2 packets of bilberry powder and blend until incorporated.

Transfer the blended mixture to a serving bowl. Decorate with the remaining packet of bilberry powder and other toppings. I used coconut flakes, chia seeds, and agave syrup for my bowl.

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Bilberry Lemonade
With all the snow we’ve gotten in Portland lately (which is not normal, by the way), I’ve been daydreaming of summer days. Summer is a ways to go, but this bilberry lemonade will tide me over until warmer weather arrives! Make it a boozy lemonade with a splash or two of vodka. ;)

Ingredients
Your favorite lemonade recipe
Fresh mint leaves (2 sprigs for every 3 cups of lemonade)
Berryfect bilberry powder (1 packet for every 3 cups of lemonade)
Berries, for garnish

In a pitcher, muddle the mint leaves until they begin to tear. You can use a little sugar to help with this process. Mix up a batch of lemonade in the pitcher. (Tip: make it bubbly with sparkling water or lemon lime soda!) Whisk in the bilberry powder. Taste and adjust to your liking. Serve in glasses and garnish with berries.

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Bilberry Chia Pudding Parfait
I make chia seed pudding regularly, but I’ve only made vanilla pudding until now. A couple packets of bilberry powder give this pudding its pretty color, and when you layer it with cereal and cashew whip, you’ve got a Insta-worthy parfait! This recipe makes two small parfaits or one big way to share with a friend.

Ingredients
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (for pudding)
2 packets Berryfect bilberry powder
1-1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp vanilla (for cashew whip)
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp sugar
Cereal (I used an accidentally vegan chocolate cereal)

Chia Seed Pudding
Whisk together the chia seeds, soy milk, vanilla, and bilberry powder. Let sit in fridge for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight, until a pudding has formed.

Cashew Whip
Soak the cashews overnight. Drain and rinse well. Combine cashews, water, vanilla, and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. You may need to add more water to achieve the desired consistency. Add sugar and blend for 20 more seconds. Store in fridge for until completely chilled.

To Assemble the Parfait:
In a mason jar or narrow glass, layer the chia seed pudding, cereal, and cashew whip. Repeat this process so you have two of each layer. The final layer should bring you to the top of the jar/glass. Add toppings, if desired.

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Note: This post is in collaboration with Bilberry.ae, and I received complimentary samples of their products. This was not in exchange for a positive review and all opinions expressed here are my own.

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Accanto, SE Portland

Brunch at Accanto, Portland

Food brings people together, and in the case of this #pdxbrunchgirls group that I’m a part of, it’s brunch that brings us together. Just before the holidays, our brunch crew visited Accanto over on Belmont St. In typical Portland fashion, it was a gray and gloomy day, but the restaurant’s atmosphere was inviting, the food was colorful, and the company was perfect.

Accanto, SE Portland

Accanto is your cozy neighborhood Italian joint with an upscale, yet casual vibe. A quick peek at the menu reveals that it’s great for omnivores and vegetarians, but what about vegans?

I didn’t pick the restaurant for our brunch, but I contacted Accanto on Facebook to inquire about vegan options before our visit. They saw my message almost immediately, but didn’t respond, which I’ve learned from experience, usually means that they don’t have any or won’t accommodate. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know by now that I’m 99% vegan, 1% vegetarian; this brunch was part of the latter. (FYI, they finally responded in early January and noted which dinner dishes can be made vegan. Good to know!)

Accanto, SE Portland

You know how the saying goes: brunch without cocktails is just a sad, late breakfast. Haha! I’ve heard good things about the Belmont Bloody ($8), and it did not disappoint. Comes topped with ricotta, peppers, a pickle, and an olive. It also comes with pork rind draped across the top, but someone at our table quickly whisked that away.

Belmont Mary cocktail, Accanto

The ricotta donuts ($6) with lemon curd are supposed to be a must order item. Our waiter mentioned that they switched to grapefruit at one point, but customers wanted the lemon back. Don’t get distracted by this very intimate closeup of my hand, one order of these tasty donut balls is good for sharing with friends.

Ricotta Donuts with Lemon Curd, Accanto

Since this seemed like the type of place that would do pasta well, I opted for the parsnip ravioli ($14) and asked them not to include the poached egg. (Still contains dairy though.) I was right: the ravioli was great! This dish had some intriguing accompaniments to the ravioli: treviso radicchio, pine nuts, brussels sprouts, and salsa verde. Tasty enough, but it seemed like there was a lot going on in one plate.

Parsnip Ravioli, Accanto

At our table, the overall consensus was that the food was enjoyable and very rich. Perhaps even too rich as everyone left some food on their plate. Here are some other dishes at our table:

Roasted veggies and polenta ($13) featuring roasted brussels sprouts, carrots, and cauliflower. Topped heavily with ricotta and finished with a poached egg. Good for folks who want to get a yolk porn shot for Instagram.

Roasted Veggies & Polenta, Accanto

Accanto’s breakfast sandwich ($11) is basically a more upscale take on a classic breakfast sandwich. Comes with a generous leafy green salad.

Breakfast Sandwich, Accanto

Instead of your standard benedict ingredients, they mix it up a little with this chard-tomato benedict ($14) that comes with a smoked hollandaise. Back in my poached egg loving days, I would have been all over this dish.

Chard Tomato Benedict, Accanto

Accanto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Best of 2016. Hello 2017!

Let's Nom Nom - Instagram 2016 Best Nine

Happy new year, everyone! Hope you’re not nursing a hangover from ringing in the new year like I am. ;) There are some exciting things coming up for Let’s Nom Nom in 2017, but before I get to that, let’s go over some highlights from the past year…

Best Nine: All the cool kids posted their Instagram best nine, so I did it too. Not a surprise that mine had multiple photos of ramen, but I can’t believe there are no burgers here! I’m slightly amused that donut photo, which was my very first test photo on my new camera somehow made it into the mix.

Restaurants: I ate a lot of delicious things in 2016. It’s tough to pick favorites, but my top three spots that I won’t shut up about are Nix, Dirt Candy, and Farm Spirit.

Ramen: I also ate a lot of ramen this year. In 2015, I ate 15 bowls of ramen. In 2016, it was a whooping 20 bowls! Many thanks to everyone who ate ramen with me, so I didn’t have to look like a noodle hog on my own.

2016 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, US Veg Corp

Veg Fests: 2016 was the year I attended two Veg Fests: NYC and PDX. It was also kind of a big deal for me to design for NYC Veg Fest — that’s the biggest event I’ve ever worked on!

Earth Day Vegan Eats: Speaking of events, I hosted my very first event in 2016. Rather than just making it about food, it was about veganism and the environment too. It was a small gathering, but I’m quite proud of it, especially the posters we created.

Mac & Cheese: 2016 was also the year I entered two mac & cheese contests. One was an all vegan contest, and the other was an annual dairy-ful contest where my entry was the only vegan mac they’ve ever had. It was also my first experience cooking 9 lbs of macaroni! I haven’t shared my thoughts on why I entered the latter, but it’s on my to do list. I’ve also been making more tweaks to the recipe!

Mac & Cheese Takedown

Portland: We moved back to the west coast! Poor John had to drive the entire way since I still don’t know how to drive, and poor Chloe and Tony did not enjoy the ride at all. Have you ever seen a cat projectile vomit? I have, and it’s not pretty.

Camping: I am slowly, but surely becoming an outdoorsy person. There were ten waterfalls along the 10-mile trail in Silver Falls State Park, and some animals visited our campsite in the middle of the night, but all that is a longer post for another day.

Bob’s Red Mill: It turns out that Bob’s Red Mill is from the Portland area, and we when we visited the mill, Bob was there playing the piano. And yes, Bob was wearing his classic hat, red vest, and bolo tie combo!

Blogging: What started as a personal food diary has grown into a brand and business of sorts, especially in the past year. I’ve had a lot of fun with blog related projects and collabs over the past year, and I’m thrilled to be a part of XOXO Collective. Big things in store for the XOXO ladies next year!

Veganizer PDX

2017: So what’s on the agenda for 2017? I’ll be heading to LA in a few days, so keep an eye on Instagram as I eat and play my way through LA.

Let’s Nom Nom will be getting a makeover in 2017, and I hope to take this blog in a new direction and go beyond food. I’ve been meaning to start writing more about veganism, not just vegan and vegetarian food, and this seems like the year to do it.

All that said, the biggest and most exciting thing on my plate is that I will be leading a little something called Veganizer PDX. Get ready to be #OfficiallyVeganized!

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Veggie Ramen Roundup, NYC

Vegetarian & Vegan Ramen Roundup, New York City

Let’s talk ramen. I’m pretty sure the term “veg-friendly” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ramen. If you’re a ramen lover, you’re probably most familiar with tonkotsu ramen, where the broth is made of pork bones and comes topped with pork belly… it’s extremely meat focused. But in New York City, meatless ramen is on the rise. Ramen traditionalists can whine all they want, but new age ramen (that’s what I’ve been calling it for years) is here to stay. No ramen eaters should be left behind!

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ve witnessed my journey from ramen loving omnivore to ramen loving vegan. At one point, I devised a big plan of ranking every ramen bowl based on three criteria: broth, noodles, toppings. Then I threw that plan out the window and decided on a full roundup of every vegetarian and vegan ramen I’ve tried in NYC. The good, the mediocre, the bad, they’re all here.

All the ramen featured here is vegetarian. Some are accidentally vegan or can be made vegan by omitting the egg or requesting egg-free noodles. I had some of these bowls before I stopped eating eggs. I recommend that you double check ingredients with the restaurant if it’s important to you that it be strictly vegan. The bowls listed as “confirmed vegan” are the ones that explicitly say “vegan” on the restaurant’s menu.

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Here are the standouts! These are the ramen bowls that I won’t shut up about, I’ve recommended to friends, I’ve gone back for additional rounds, or I won’t forget because they are atypical for ramen.

Hozon Chickpea Ramen, Momofuku Noodle Bar

Hozon Ramen, Momofuku Noodle Bar
It’s no secret that this is one of my (or possibly even my favorite) ramen in NYC. This is as close as you get to vegetarian tonkotsu. Rich, silky broth and bouncy, al dente noodles. Chickpeas and kale are unusual for ramen toppings, but it works.
East Village, momofuku.com

Vegan XO Miso Ramen, Nakamura

XO Miso Ramen, Nakamura
Made of Momofuku’s vegan XO sauce, this broth is packed with serious umami. The noodles and toppings are fine, but this bowl is really all about that fabulous broth. Confirmed vegan.
Lower East Side, nakamuranyc.com

Wasabi Shoyu Ramen, Ippudo

Wasabi Shoyu Ramen, Ippudo East
If you’re not careful, the wasabi infused steam from the piping hot broth may hurt your eyes a little, but it is so worth it. In typical Ippudo fashion, the noodles are perfect. The bean curd makes for a tasty, meaty topping.
East Village, ippudony.com

Vegan Shojin Ramen, Ippudo Westside

Shojin Ramen, Ippudo West
Zen Buddhist cuisine meets ramen, and the result is elegant and refined. The flavors are bright and delicate. This isn’t your typical comfort food style ramen, but is definitely worth trying if you’re open to something a little different. Confirmed vegan.
Midtown West, ippudony.com

Vegan Miso Ramen - Mokbar, Chelsea Market

Vegan Miso Ramen, MokBar
If I’m remembering correctly, this was the very first vegan ramen I had in NYC. Overall, an excellent bowl of ramen with an especially tasty kombu shiitake doenjang broth. MokBar also wins bonus points for having plenty of vegan appetizers! Confirmed vegan.
Chelsea, mokbar.com

Mushroom Ramen, Dassara Ramen

Mushroom Ramen, Dassara Ramen
This unique mushroom and walnut broth has an almost gravy-like richness. I visited with an omnivore who declared that this meatless ramen stole the show that night.
Carroll Gardens, dassara.com

Veggie Miso Ramen, Chuko Ramen

Veggie Miso Ramen, Chuko Ramen
Apparently, this miso broth is emulsified, then topped with ginger-scallion oil. Whatever they’re doing with the broth, they should keep at it as it’s delicious. I’ve even come across meat eaters who declared this bowl their favorite at Chuko.
Prospect Heights, chukobk.com

Yasai Vegan Ramen, Hinata Ramen

Yasai Ramen, Hinata Ramen
The MSG-free Yasai Ramen comes with a light, but still satisfying broth. Very generous with toppings. Pro tip: ask for the egg-free wavy noodles to make it vegan.
Midtown East, hinataramen.com

Vegetarian Vegan Ramen, Mr Taka Ramen, Lower East Side

Vegetarian Ramen, Mr Taka Ramen
One of the better tasting soy milk broths I’ve had, but I would probably get it spicy if I were to go back. The noodles are egg-free, so just pass on the egg topping to make it vegan.
Lower East Side, mrtakaramen.com

Vegetarian Ramen, Union Republic

Alpha & Omega Ramen, Union Republic
Fine, this is in Jersey City, but you can easily get there on the PATH using your MTA card. A veggie loaded ramen bowl that’s heavy on garlic in a good way.
Journal Square, unionrepublic.com

Miso Butter Mazemen, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop

Miso Butter Mazemen, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop
Mazemum is ramen’s more saucy sister that for some reason has never managed to win over NYC in the same way as regular ramen. Ivan’s miso mazemen is rich and silky, almost like a carbonara sauce. A very indulgent bowl.
Hell’s Kitchen, ivanramen.com

Vegetable Ramen, Totto Ramen

Vegetable Ramen, Totto Ramen
One of the most colorful veggie ramen bowls in town. Seaweed and shiitake broth topped with a mountain of vegetables, yuzu paste, and a lime wedge. Overall, pretty good ramen even though it looks more like a salad.
Midtown West, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown East, tottoramen.com

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If you’re craving ramen, here are some good options. You probably won’t be dreaming about these bowls for days to come, but you’ll leave the restaurant happy.

Vegetarian Shoyu Ramen, Ivan Ramen
Light and chewy rye noodles in a veggie shoyu broth. Light, but it’s still enjoyable. However, the highlight of the meal was the Tofu Coney Island.

Vegetarian Miso Ramen, Ramen by Mew
Smooth and satisfying miso broth, and you can get real chewy vegan noodles for an extra $2. FYI, Ramen by Mew is now Mew Men so they menu may have changed.

Vegetable Miso Ramen, Kambi Ramen
Gigantic bowl of velvety miso ramen from one of the older ramen-ya in town. I highly recommend sharing it if you’re not in hangry beast mode.

Vegetarian Miso Ramen, Kopi Ramen
Make sure you ask for the vegetable broth when you order the miso ramen at this hidden speakeasy ramen-ya. Pretty tasty, and a welcome addition to the area.

Mini Veggie Ramen, Genji Izakaya
Not bad for a restaurant that’s inside a grocery store. Tasty vegetable based broth. Don’t be fooled by the word “mini” on the menu as the $7 ramen bowls are plenty filling.

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Here’s the stuff that isn’t so great. I recommend that you pass on the following:

Ramen Takumi
I’ll give Ramen Takumi credit for being the first to have multiple vegetarian options on the menu, but nowadays, there are much better options in town. They gotta step up their game.

Vegetable Ramen, Jin Ramen
I had the vegetable ramen with a mushroom broth that was very light (read: boring). I loved Jin when I was an omnivore, but the veggie option seems like an afterthought.

Yasai Ramen, Ganso Ramen
The shiitake soy milk broth has an interesting nuttiness to it, but is pretty bland. The thick, juicy slices of tofu were tasty though.

Vegetable Ramen, Hide-Chan Ramen
Similar to the bowl at Totto, which isn’t a surprise as last I checked they were owned by the same owner. On my last visit, some of the toppings were icy cold. Totto does it better.

Vegetable Ramen, Setagaya Ramen
For under $10, the elements in this bowl aren’t all bad, but this one needs an overall flavor boost to make it more exciting.

Vegetable Miso Ramen, Rai Rai Ken
Fairly light for a miso broth. It was fine as a midnight snack after some drinking, but not enough to get me to go back and try it sober.

Yasai Ramen, Ramen-Ya
Noodles were good, and they pack a lot of them into the bowl. The broth wasn’t the best. Very heavy, salty miso.

Yasai Vegetable Ramen, Lucky Cat Ramen
Very mediocre with an oily broth (not in good way). Some of the veggie toppings were cooked to a mush.

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Ramen that was on my radar, but I didn’t get to try before leaving NYC:

Mentoku Ramen
Mentoku has a matcha ramen, and the broth looks insanely green. I didn’t get a chance to try this one before moving away from NYC, but word on the street is that it’s pretty good.

Ramen Misoya
Apparently Misoya now has a separate menu with vegetarian options. No mention of it on their website. Sounds like it’s worth checking out if you’re a miso fan.

Mu Ramen
I’ve heard great things about the vegan option at Mu. Unfortunately, it’s not a regular menu item, and even when I called them the morning of, they couldn’t confirm if it would be served that evening.

Ramen Zundo-Ya
This place seems to be a hot ramen spot these days. They’ve got a $18 vegetable ramen listed on the menu, but no description to accompany it. Mysterious.

V-Spot
Apparently, vegan Latin restaurant V-Spot offers a vegan ramen once a week during the winter months. I was expecting some kind of Latin fusion ramen, but it doesn’t look like that on Instagram.

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