Vegan Dining: Red Lentil

The hubby and I are coming up on our one year wedding anniversary.  I can’t believe we won’t be newlyweds anymore!  After Dylan and I got engaged we went to dinner at Red Lentil in Watertown, MA.  This week we revisited this great spot!

I love to walk, my husband…not so much.  To my amazement I was able to get him to walk a ton with me on Tuesday.  I love to walk especially if I know I’m going to gorge myself on food later.  First we walked at a park close to our house, then I went to lunch with a friend. After that we headed out and visited the Arnold Arboretum.  It was my first time there and it was beautiful.  So many amazing trees, vines, and other plants.  I think it will be breathtaking in the fall.

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Next we headed on over to Mount Auburn Cemetery.  I know I know…it’s a cemetery but if you live in the area you might now it as a popular spot to take a walk and see some amazing (and sometimes famous) graves.  We paid B.F. Skinner a visit (he’s the father of ABA, not that you care to know that…)  Then we headed off to dinner.

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Red Lentil is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant.  Everything on the menu is vegetarian or vegan but many of their vegetarian dishes can easily be made vegan.  As a vegan it’s so liberating to be able to look at a menu and not have to “hunt” for something to eat!

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They have a decent bottled beer/wine list as well as some awesome juices and smoothies.  We ordered the french onion soup and gobi manchurian to start.  We always get the gobi manchurian when we eat here.  It’s amazing how versatile cauliflower can be!  The cauliflower is tossed with Indian seasonings and breaded with chickpea flower and fried.  It’s awesome and we highly recommend it.  For our entrees the hubby order Chimichurri Seitan which was delicious.  It was served with a potato and parsnip mash, chanterelle mushrooms and a shallot gravy.  I ordered the Rustic Paella.  It was ok.  I found myself gravitating more towards eating what my husband ordered (we like to share!).  I think my dish was lacking something and I could have made it better myself.  I won’t be ordering it again.

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Anyways, this is a restaurant we would take our non veggie friends to for sure.  If you’re ever in the area make sure you stop by!

Summer Fun and Vegan Finds

We’ve been so spoiled weather wise this summer.  It’s been absolutely gorgeous around these parts.  Amazing summer weather = beach days!

I think I’ve gone to the beach more this year than I have in the last two years.  I am certainly not complaining.  My husband and I went to Nantasket Beach this last Wednesday for a picture perfect beach day.  We had lunch on the beach and even braved the water which was actually pretty warm compared to other trips this year.

When we left the beach we headed to the Fruit Center in Hingham.  I love this grocery store from my childhood.  I used to visit it with my mom and my aunt when we would stay with her as kids.  I haven’t been there in years.  My husband always enjoys accompanying me on a trip down memory lane…isn’t that right, honey?

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Anyways, we left with some goodies that I would like to share with you.  First is a true taste of my childhood…coffee milk!  I always think of my brother when I see coffee milk.  He loved it when we were kids.  Now that we’re grown ups and enjoy a real cup of coffee we don’t seem to have too much coffee milk these days.  We picked up this syrup and it is awesome.  Of course we use almond milk but the taste is still the same.  I’m thinking vegan coffee milkshakes in our future.

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Our other find was this vegan cheese.  It was one sale for $4.99 so we HAD to get it.  It usually runs for about 10 bucks (yikes!).  I did a post awhile ago about vegan cheeses but did not mention any cheese that are nut based.  I am honestly not a huge nut fan and I sometimes feel that cashews make me feel queazy.  However, this cheese is made with cashews and macadamia nuts and it was absolutely delicious.  I even love the clever name! I could not taste the nuts at all, and the cheese had a nice spiciness to it.  Now I’m inspired to make my own vegan nut cheese sometime!

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Vegan Dining: Yard House

My family and I are very lucky to live in an area with tons of history, culture and of course great dining options.  Yesterday we were able to cross all these local attributes off our list.

If you live in the Boston area it’s great to take advantage of all the awesome museums around here.  It’s also important to note that many of these places have a free admission days!  Yesterday was Free Fun Friday at several venues in the area, so we hit up the Museum of Fine Arts.  Free admission days are perfect for bringing kids, they get the experience of attending a museum and as a parent you don’t feel bad about wasting money when your kid craps out in about an hour (if you’re lucky).  I think we were able to get a solid hour and a half in so we were extra lucky.

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My husband I are also extremely fortunate to have our parents in the area who are always happy to baby sit for us.  We dropped the off the boy with my in-laws and headed out for dinner.  One of the many perks of being a teacher is that you sometime receive some generous end of the year gifts.  This year my husband was (deservingly) spoiled by some of his students’ families.  We had a gift card we could use at several restaurants so we decided to go to Yard House in Dedham.

If you love beer this is the place for you. Their beer menu is extensive, it took me about 5 minutes to decide on what to order!  As for food guess what…they have tons of vegan options with Gardein products!  Yay!

As vegans sometimes eating out can be an adventure.  My husband and I about 98% of time the time have no problem finding something we can eat even if that means being a little creative.  However, we are occasionally stuck with ordering a side salad (bummer).

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I wish I took a picture of all the options on the menu, but they included salads, pizzas, wings and so on.  My husband ordered the vegan burger which was topped with Daiya cheese.  I believe it was a house made burger but I’m not positive.  I took a few bites of his meal (as I always do!) and it was very good.  I ordered the orange peel chicken which was also very good though I wish it came with more veggies.  I was only able to eat about half of it.  The Gardein chicken was fried and crispy and the sauce was very flavorful.  It was very different from something I would make at home.

Our server was very nice and guess what…she was a vegan too!  We talked to her about some of the good vegan places in the area.  My hubby and I have a list of our favorite go to vegan/vegetarian places that I hope to write about on here soon.

 

What do vegans eat? Part III

 

Cheese addition!

Avoiding meat?  No problem.

Switching to non dairy milk?  I got this.

No more eggs?  Ok.

Saying no to cheese?  Now that’s what you get me.

I have to admit, I was a wine and cheese gal back in my 20’s.  I loved a good smoked gouda on a cracker.  Giving up cheese was/is the hardest part about transitioning to a vegan diet if you ask me.  I’ve experimented with a lot of cheese alternatives and there have been some hits and misses for sure.  Today I’m going to share with you three of my favorites.

Cheese for pizza:  Pizza is my all time favorite food.  If I had to go without it I don’t know what I would do.  When we’re out, my husband and I will usually order a cheese-less pizza loaded up with veggies, but when we’re home we make our own.  Friday night is our standard pizza night.  I usually make 2-3 pizzas (yes we have leftovers) so I’m pretty much a pro.  For our pizzas we use Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds.  I often find that cheese alternatives tend to not melt as well as their dairy peers, but I do not run into that problem with this brand.  Daiya also offers cheddar and pepperjack shreds as well as blocks of cheese.  Here’s a pizza I made a few weeks ago.  Isn’t it almost too pretty to eat?

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Cheese of bagels (and beyond):  I love a good bagel and cream cheese.  Load that baby up with some scallions…yum.  I’ve tried several brands of vegan cream cheese and Tofuffi is by far the best.  I honestly think it tastes just like the real thing.  We always have a container for it in our fridge.  I use this cream cheese not only for bagels but for Mexican dips, cream cheese frostings, and as an add on to make creamy tomato sauces.  Next time you’re at the grocery store check out Tofuffi’s ice cream bars too.  They’re pretty amazing.

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Well not really a cheese but:  Nutritional yeast is pretty amazing.  It has a nutty taste to it and packs tons of vitamins as well.  I use it as an alternative to parmesan cheese for my pasta dishes and popcorn.  There are also recipes on line that use nutritional yeast to create a nacho cheese sauce as well.  Basically you can put nutritional yeast on anything!

I hope I’ve broadened your horizons as to non dairy alternatives to cheese!

 

A Cooler Margarita

Who doesn’t love a margarita in the summer time?

I find when I order a margarita at a restaurant it can be hit or miss so I love making my own at home!

I recently did some experimenting and came up with what I think (and so does my husband) is a pretty yummy concoction.  Best of all, you can find all the ingredients at Trader Joe’s.

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Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces  Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber Cooler
  • 2 ounces Trader Joe’s Margarita Mix (or fresh lime juice or limeade)
  • 1 ounce of your favorite tequila
  • 1 ounce  triple sec
  • 1 fresh lime wedge
  • sugar and salt (yes mixed together) to rim your glass

This will yield you one generous margarita.  Throw all your ingredients into a shaker with some ice and obviously shake.  It’s a nice little arm work out and you get a delicious drink out of it.  I find the watermelon cucumber cooler is a little sweet for my taste so the margarita mix tones that down for me.  The sugar and salt rim compliments this drink nicely as well.

My boys are out camping tonight so I’m going to enjoy one of these out on my deck.  They both also have an aversion to seafood, both real and vegan, so I’m making myself some “crab less” crab cakes by Gardein.  If you are vegan and used to enjoy seafood you must try these.  They are so good and taste like the real deal.

Cheers!

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Zucchini Bread

It’s hard to believe I haven’t even been out of school two weeks yet!  We’ve already done so much and still have much more to do!

So far we’ve hit the beach, gone to the pool,  celebrated my hubby becoming a BCBA, done tons of walking, ventured to the Cape for a day, and have eaten some great food (and maybe had a few margaritas along the way!).

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I can always tell I haven’t been cooking too much when my manicure holds up for awhile.  It’s been fun going out to eat, but I do miss cooking.  I made a really great zucchini bread the first day of summer vacation and have been dying to make it again.  I’ve made this for my parents and in-laws and have received some positive feedback, plus the five year old will put away two giant pieces of this in one sitting so I think it’s going to become a staple for us!

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I apologize for not having any visuals of the zucchini bread making progress, but let me grace you with some pictures of our vacation so far.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups freshly grated zucchini
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 flax eggs (one “egg” = 1 tablespoon of flax meal and 3 tablespoons of water)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup of melted vegan butter + some extra for greasing the pans

So I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not really a baker.  Baking makes me nervous honestly.  If you forget one ingredient you can ruin your recipe.  Luckily this one is pretty simple, plus you can add some goodies to this bread if you like.  The first time I made it I had some extra pecans on hand which added nicely to the bread.  This time I threw in some freshly grated ginger to the bread and it was a nice addition as well.

First attack your zucchini.  It’s a little time consuming (and a decent arm work out).  Once your zucchini is grated set it aside.  I have seen different recipes that ask you to drain or dry your grated zucchini to get rid of the extra moisture, but I did not with my bread.  I think since you are not using real eggs you should leave your zucchini as is.

Next make you flax eggs.  Whisk together the flax meal and water and let that sit for about 5 minutes.  Yes, I know it looks nothing like eggs, but you won’t even notice it in your zucchini bread.

Add all your dry ingredients (salt, baking soda, flour, sugar, spices) to a separate large bowl.  Add your flax eggs, vanilla, melted vegan butter to your bowl with the zucchini and mix together.  Then add your wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry and stir until blended.  If you find your batter is dry feel free to add a few splashes of almond milk.  I had to do that the last time I made my bread.

Next, split your batter between two greased 5×9 pans.  Throw them into the oven set to 350 and forget about it for an hour.  You’re house will start to smell amazing and you’ll have a delicious bread for breakfast. 🙂

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