Archive for the ‘Local’ Category

Where do we eat?! Where DON’T we eat!?

One of the top reasons/complaints/questions I get pertain to where and what I get to eat. “Well doesn’t it suck, like not being able to go to restaurants?”  Why can’t I go to restaurants? Silly people! There are so, so many places in

Azia, we almost had our wedding reception here!

the Twin Cities where I can get vegetarian meals it’s remarkable! Below, I have an extensive list of places that are either all veg, all vegan, or are vegan/vegetarian friendly! The crazy thing? This isn’t even all of them…there are hundreds more from where this list came from! Do a little digging on the internet and you are bound to find more! Happy Hunting!
Vegetarian Options
128 Cafe, St. Paul
Adelita’s (Mexican), Mpls
Amici Pizza & Bistro, Mpls
Azuki’s Sushi, Stadium Village Mpls
Bagu Sushi, Mpls
The Barbary Fig (Moroccan), St. Paul
Barbette (French), Mpls
Barley John’s, New Brighton
The Bean Factory, St. Paul
Bob’s Java Hut (soup, sandwiches, salads), Mpls
Bombay Bistro (Indian), Mpls
Bravo! Cafe and Bakery, St. Paul
Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli, Mpls
Burger King (I’m serious, they have a Veggie burger!), all over
Chatterbox Pub, Mpls and St. Paul
*Chili’s, all over
*Chino Latino, Mpls
Christo’s (Greek), Mpls and St. Paul
*Davanni’s, all over
Delicious Cafe and Brazilian Grill, Minnetonka
*Dino’s Gyros (Greek), Roseville
Dulono’s Pizza, Mpls
Fuji-Ya (Japanese), St. Paul
*Green Mill, all over
Hard Times Cafe, Mpls
II Gatto (Italian), Mpls
*Jimmy John’s, all over
*Mt. Fuji, Mpls and Maple Grove
*Olive Garden, all over
*Panco Villa (Mexican), Mpls
*Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Rosedale Mall
Solera (Tapas Bar), Mpls
Vegan & Vegetarian Options
5 Spice Asian Take-out, Blaine
501 Club, Mpls
Acadia Cafe, Mpls
Amazing Thailand, Mpls
Anodyne, Mpls (Cafe)
*Asia’s Finest Restaurant, Vadnais Heights
Asian Express, St. Paul Skyway
*Azia, Mpls
Back Door Deli, Vadnais Heights
The Bad Waitress, Mpls
*Baja Sol, all over
*Bambu (Vietnamese and Chinese), Maplewood
Ban Thai Restaurant, White Bear Lake
Bangkok Thai Deli, St. Paul
Bar Abilene (Mexican), Mpls
BD’s Mongolian BBQ, Burnsville
Beirut Restaurant (Lebanese), St. Paul
Best of India, St. Louis Park
*Big Bowl, all over
Birchwood Cafe, Mpls
Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, St. Paul
Black Sea Restaurant (Turkish), St. Paul
Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza, Mpls
Blue Moon Coffee Cafe, Mpls
Blue Nile (Ethiopian), Mpls
*Bona Vietnamese Restaurant, Mpls
Bordertown Cafe, UofM Campus
Breadsmith, all over
Broder’s Cucina Italiana, Mpls
*Bruegger’s Bagels, all over
Bryant Lake Bowl, (bowling alley with vegan options-weird but cool), Mpls
*Buca di Beppo (Italian), Maple Grove and Mpls
*Burrito Loco, Dinkytown
Cafe Latte, St. Paul
*California Pizza Kitchen, all over
Caspian Bistro (Iranian), Mpls
Cheng Heng (Cambodian), St. Paul
Chiang Mai Thai, Mpls
Chin’s Asia Fresh, Minnetonka
*Chipotle, all over
Cosmos, Mpls
Crave (Italian), Edina
Cupcake, Mpls
*Dunn Brothers, all over
*Ecopolitan, Mpls
Eden Pizza, St. Paul
*Einstien Bros. Bagels, all over
*Erbert and gerbert’s, all over
Everest on Grand (Nepalese and Tibetan), St. Paul
Falafel King (Middle Eastern), all over
French Meadow Bakery and Cafe, Mpls
Galactic Pizza, Mpls
*Good Earth, Roseville and Edina
*Gopher Express, UofM Campus
Grand Szechuan, Bloomington
*Grumpy’s, Roseville and Mpls
*The Independent, Mpls
It’s Greek to Me, Mpls
Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe, St. Paul
*Jamba Juice, all over
*Jasmine 26, Mpls
*Jasmine Deli, Mpls
Johnny Rockets (60’s drive thru), Bloomington
*Khan’s Mongolian BBQ, Roseville and Richfield
King and I Thai, Mpls
Little Tijuana (Punk Rock Mexican? Whatever that means. Lol, that’s what their site actually says), Mpls
*The Local (Irish bar), Mpls
*Lucky Dragon, Mpls
moto-i (Japanese), Mpls
*Muddy Paws Cheesecake, St. Louis Park
*Napa Valley Grille, MOA
*Noodles and Company, all over
OM (Upscale Indian), Mpls
*P.F Chang’s, all over
*Panera, all over
*Pei Wei (Fast food Pan-Asian), all over
Pineda Tacos, all over
*Pizza Luce, Mpls (3 locations) and St. Paul
*Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge (Bar food), Mpls
*Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar, Mpls
*Sawatdee (Thai), Mpls, Maple Grove, St. Paul
*Shuang Cheng (Chinese), Dinkytown (My favorite restaurant of all time!)
Triple Rock Social Club (Punk Bar-serves breakfast-I need to go here!), Mpls
Tucci Benucch (Italian), MOA
Turtle Bread Company, Mpls (2 locations)
*Village Wok, UofM Campus-open hella late, like till 2am!
Vincent A Restaurant (French), Mpls
W.A Frost and Company, St. Paul

*Places I’ve ate vegetarian meals at, so feel free to ask me questions!

Pictures (Click to enlarge.)


Blue Nile.

Everest on Grand.


The Good Earth.

Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe- Vegan ice cream? So cool!

Cafe Latte.





Jasmine 26; A Step up from the Deli

Last night my best friend G and I took one of our girlfriends out for her birthday, named A. Being that A and I are both vegetarians we decided to try out a new vegetarian place, called Jasmine 26 in Minneapolis. Many people, especially foodies, have heard of Eat Street. Normal folks call it Nicollet, but for the foodies, it is Eat Street…the magical street that boosts every authentic and cultured meal known to Minneapolis. The diversity there is remarkable, from Vietnamese, Mexican, Greek, American, All Raw to Indian (and everything else in-between). Many people have experienced Jasmine Deli…which is owned by the same folks as Jasmine 26. Jasmine Deli, which I have reviewed before ( see post ‘Tofu Wars’) is a great little hole in the wall dive that has a great variety of authentic Vietnamese dishes as well as many vegetarian/vegan options. It literally can only seat 12 people-max, but people still come in droves to wait for a seat anyways. So Jasmine Deli decided to make a larger and more upscale version of their highly successful Deli, and there’s where Jasmine 26 comes in. Jasmine 26 is a beautiful restaurant nestled next to The Bad Waitress on the corner of 26th and Nicollet. The place is larger than it’s proceeder, is spacious and has a remarkably large and full bar guarded by a wall sized Buddha. Very cool!

G, A and I debated sitting outside on the cute wicker chairs and tables they have lining up outside their building but decided since it was over 90 degrees out, inside would be just fine. First dilemma to conquer? What to drink. They have a large and extensive menu of what I call “fancy” drinks, wines and beer. I settled on Sapporo, my fave Japanese beer (that’s brewed in Canada…strange? That will be a different blog…), A settled on a martini, and G got the interesting if not fascinating Frozen Bubble Tea. For anyone who has had Bubble tea, you know exactly why this concoction is strange. Frozen bubble tea? Frozen liqured bubble tea? Well G got it, and we all tried it. Excellente! G got the Mango version, but there’s also other flavors, including coconut. Yum! Yum!

Since we were fiendishly excited over too many options on the menu we all got an appetizer as well as a main dish. On the appetizer course we got the Coconut Cream Cheese Wontons, Sea Salt and Pepper Cube Tofu and Lettuce Wraps. Delicious, delicious, delicious. We were all amazed by the appetizers. So much that we ate almost all of them before I realized I hadn’t snapped any pictures! Opps. So that’s why my pictures show scantily clad plates of food…

The cream cheese wontons were definitely different…it had the familiar taste that we all know and love but then it had a little sweet coconut to it, and served with homemade pineapple sauce, it was perfection. The tofu. Omg. I know I always praise P.F Chang’s tofu as my favorite, but I think I found a new one. This appetizer of lightly fried tofu is a-mazing. G, isn’t even a fan of tofu and she was addicted to that stuff!  On the outside it has a little spicy kick, and flavored so delectably by salt and pepper; on the inside it is hot, soft and with less flavor (in this case it works out so, so well). The contrast between the very flavorful and crispy outside is great with the soft and less flavorful inside. It’s so good. I have been thinking about it all day. The lettuce wraps came out so beautifully wrapped. Seriously like little presents-they were wrapped with rice udon noodles, eggs, cucumbers, mints, bean sprouts and had little baby shrimp on the outside neatly tucked into the cilantro tying the package together. (Everything we got was vegetarian except the lettuce rolls, but you can easily take the shrimp off!)

Onto the main meal. G got the Pho (beef), I got the Vegetarian Pho and A got the Grilled Shrimp Coconut Milk Noodle Salad without the shrimp (she got mock duck instead). G thought her beef broth was good, sweeter than usual but still very delicious. It came out similar to most other places serving pho. Mine however was different, but this was expected. For anyone who doesn’t have Pho knowledge, it is the common Vietnamese soup that can be eaten literally for any meal. It is usually made of (beef) broth, flavored with onions, herbs, bean sprouts, lemon, lime, and is made with rice noodles and served with meat, tofu or mock duck. It is as common to the Asians and foodies, as it is the all American Chicken Noodle Soup. I have it when I’m sick, when I’m cold, when I’m tired, when I’m hungover and most definitely when I crave Vietnamese food. This was my first time ever having Pho that had broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in it. Your first impression would be, “That’s wrong” and I wouldn’t correct you. It was wrong. I understand that I ordered the Veggie Pho…but I thought all would be replaced was my broth and meat. No, they added in other stuff too. I’m not saying it was bad, I’m just saying it was different and not in a way that I favor. The broth however was good, since I have had vegetarian Pho that has been downright bad before, so at least I can give them props on that. A also wasn’t too impressed with her meal, saying it lacked flavor. It’s described as “Grilled shrimp (in her case, mock duck) tossed in coconut milk with thick “udon-style” rice noodles, garnished with shredded lettuce, cucumber, herbs, cilantro, and a sprinkle of roasted peanuts. Served with house vinaigrette sauce.” Without the shrimp, shedidn’t have much of a coconut taste, so her noodle dish ended up being rather bland. She had to add a lot of hoisin sauce (which they called Ha Noi sauce here, so don’t be tricked) and chili pepper sauce to her dish to make it taste better.

In conclusion, we would probably rate it a B+.

The presentation was beautiful, the place was clean and gorgeous, the service was good, the appetizers had us drooling, our drinks were overall normal, and the main dishes were aiight. So, to round it off we gave them a great B+ and think that if they can improve on their main dishes, and maybe take the prices down a notch it would be a stellar A. Still, we have to be grateful for them to make such a nice, vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant. Almost every single thing on the menu can be made vegetarinized.  Would we go there again? Totally, and next time you can join us! 😉

Priority #1? Happiness.

About 5 months ago I couldn’t have told you anything that I can tell you now. Right now I can tell you that I’m going to grad school and getting my Masters. I can tell you that I love my job. I can tell you that I can’t wait to be a teacher. I can honestly say I feel stress, oh, only about 10% of the time. Overall, I am a rather happy, satisfied and optimistic person.

About 5 months ago I could have told you that I hated my job. I had no idea where my future was going. I was confused. I was depressed. I was stressed 80% of the time. Why the huge difference you ask? Well let me rewind…

About 5 months ago I was working at a well known corporation, who has a great reputation, and is doing fairly well for our times. I was psyched when I got offered this position and couldn’t wait to begin my new career. I had originally gone to school for business because I had rather big (and rather shallow) goals for myself. I wanted to be a boss. I wanted to manage because it was my way or the highway (I’m a tad bossy, says my husband). And the worse part of my dream? I wanted to make lots of molla. I wanted to make the greens. I had a brief stint after my first 2 years of college and was playing with the idea of teaching instead, but quickly talked myself out of it. Teachers don’t make any money. Pfth! See? I told you my goals were shallow. Anyways, getting this job was perfect to me. I had high hopes. I was planning on working my way up the corporate ladder and stay with this company for many years in the foreseen future. I was getting a nice paycheck, fabulous benefits, and felt respected.  Finally I had my “grown up job.” This high was quickly deflated when I actually started working.

Working consisted of sitting at my “desk” (aka cubicle), pretending I was busy, kissing ass, following a million procedures-doing a million of them wrong-then fixing them to fit regulations before I got written up, making phone calls after phone calls, and emailing half of the day. It also consisted of meetings with my manager on a daily basis that I seriously had no idea how it was contributing to really any results. Don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t hating on my job because I was failing at it. I was doing great. Top numbers, great results, happy clients, the whole nine yards. However, doing “great” had it’s tolls. Everyday I would come home completely worn out, irritated, stressed and worried about the next day. How was I going to perform tomorrow? Where and how was I going to get my day’s numbers? Who am I meeting with? How many meetings do I have? I wanted to pull my hair out every single night. My poor husband had to listen to me bitch and rant until bedtime, and even then, it didn’t stop. I was loosing sleep from laying there awake with my mind racing about going to work the next morning. I even called my parents and told them, and I never do that. Admit defeat to my father? Yeah right. So this must have been bad!

Then in the morning after my fabulous nights sleep filled with nightmares about work, I would put on my suit…and wanted to shoot myself. It gets worse. I am not exaggerating (and I swear on my future baby’s life) that when I reached the street my office was on, I wanted to throw up. I had to swallow chunks back. ( I know, TMI, sorry.) Not only throw up but possibly get into a car accident so that I could miss work. Oh how wonderful would it be if someone crashed into me? I bet I could get a couple weeks off! I would even find myself cursing and whining all the way into the office like a child even though there was no one there to listen to me.

Each day I’d greet my work bestie and cubicle neighbor R, and give him the look. The look that says “Please kill me. Or punch me. Or anything to put me out of my misery.” I love R. He was one of the only reasons why I didn’t get suicidal. We would email each other back and forth during the day with smiley faces and dumb jokes to lighten up hell.

“R, do you feel like we are living ‘Office Space?” I asked him one day.
“YES. Everyday!”
I only nodded. We didn’t need to tell each other about our miseries…we both already knew them. Finally it hit me I couldn’t do this anymore. Life is way too short for this BS!
“R, I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Me neither, but what are we going to do?” R shrugged. Get the F out of here is what we’re going to do! I thought.
“Shit. I don’t even really like what I’m doing much less the company. I don’t even really like people!” I started thinking out loud. “I like kids. Damn it. I should have been a teacher.” Long pause. “I think I’m going to do something about it.”
“Like what?” R was half encouraging and half thinking I was looney tunes.
“Hmm. I don’t know yet. I’ll tell you when I know.” And I instantly went to my desk to do some “work.” My work? I went online to search up new jobs. I cruised the internet and started reading about graduate schools, different programs, and careers that are looking’ good in the future. I think I did this for a week. (Shh. I know. Bad bad employee.)

I seriously felt like I was having a quarter life crisis. After getting my undergrad done, my resume built up, my “dream job”…was this all that was left? Was this it? I enlisted the help, advice and opinions of all around me and came to a conclusion.

“R, I’m going back to school, and I’m going to teach kids!” I proclaimed to R the day I made up my mind. I was happier than ever. I was getting out of that place once in for all.
“Seriously?!” Yes he totally thought I was nuts. I was a business major. A former manager. A current private sector employee. What the hell was this person doing about to change her life?
“Yeah. I’m not happy. And I’m not going to stay unhappy forever.” I was sure. I already knew the things I would be loosing…my awesome benefit packages, my fat paychecks, my cute business cards…but really, enough was enough. I wasn’t going to make the mistake of going through the rest of my life wishing I had done something else. So that was that. I quit shortly after, on the spot (to boot!) and have never been happier.

I got judged immediately from what feels like thousands of people.
“Are you sure? But you are such a business woman!” – My mother.
“What are you thinking? Quitting a good job in this economy?” -From my lovely brother in law. Gag.
“You want to start over?”
“You know you’re not going to be getting paid as much.” – My (former) boss! Hah.
“This is sort of a hard time to be making such rash decisions.”
Blah blah blah. Life is too short to be unhappy people. Money, yes we need it, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t rule us. Happiness on the other hand I wouldn’t mind being ruled over. So I stuck to my guns and left. I’m now happily watching kids, making more money, happily a student once more, and prepared to finally do what I’ve always wanted. Money no longer looks like the best option to me, and even though I spent years studying the art of running a business, and how to direct people I don’t see any of that time as a waste. I will someday run a classroom and direct children, so in the end all my education was worth it.

To my bestie R…he’s still there today biting his nails and working his little tush off. His numbers are now the best in the office and he’s getting his well deserved recognition. But I still hope he ends up finding what he really wants and ends up happy. Like me. 🙂

Good night and here’s to a happy tomorrow!

Earth to Tolly rocks my socks off!

This summer has been filled with many fun things for me, including trips up north and nights out on the town. One of the best things though has been going to see local bands. My friends and I started to loyally follow around one band in particular, Earth to Tolly, mostly because they can really get a place rockin’. They are a Minnesota/Wisconsin based band (love supporting locals!) that primarily plays rock and blues. Usually I am not a big fan of blues, but these guys can work it. They can always satisfy the crowd whether it’s primarily older gents out there, or young college girls. They play a mixture of their own original tunes as well as covers by, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, ZZ Top, The Black Crowes, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Black Keys, Lynard Skynard–just to name some of them.

The best thing about them, besides being easy on the eyes, is that they play for a cause. Take for example, this past June they participated in “Rock and Raise” which was a benefit raising money for Opportunity Partners. Opportunity Partners is a non-profit organization working to redefine “disability” through advanced learning, meaningful work for the “disabled”, and support from dedicated communities. Their motto for the night was “Take the “dis” out of disability-and show that everyone, when given the opportunity, adds value to our world.” I love that!

Earth to Tolly has played other benefits this summer, as well as private shows, and at bars/restaurants. I have to say they have a dedicated and loyal following, as each of their shows (wherever it may have been) were packed! I have seen them play all over-Medina, St. Paul, Stillwater, Mahtomedi, Somerset, to name a few. It’s awesome that these guys will play all over, and a lot of the times for charity. Who likes to travel to do pro bono!? These guys apparently! They put on a great show, are cute to boot, friendly and take requests! What’s better than that!? Don’t worry fellas, they play for you too, not just the ladies. They can totally rock out and bellow out “Suck my Kiss” as well as the Chili Peppers yet still get the crowd up and dancing to “Sweet Home Alabama.” And I give these guys a lot of credit, they usually put on 5 hour shows, and mingle with the crowd during breaks!

Come check them out at their next gig at Ruby Begonia’s in Stillwater, Friday August 20th at 8 pm. For more information, such as details on the men, upcoming shows and dates, how to reach them, etc. you can go to either of their sites:

More pictures: (Click to enlarge.)

Dalles House, WI

Medina Ballroom, MN

Smalley’s, MN

The Dugout, MN

Ruby Begonia’s, MN

Maple Grove Hidden Gem!

Being that I am a frugal vegetarian foodie it’s kind of hard for me to find places to eat. Being cheap/poor often puts a dent into my dining experiences and being a vegetarian makes dining out even harder. Add on top of it that I expect the food to actually taste good and really we’re in a bind. I have found however a handful of places that meet my criteria.

My current favorite is 3 Squares in Maple Grove, MN. It’s funny because you wouldn’t expect such a gem nestled there. My husband and I currently go here almost twice a week (that may be one reason why we’re poor) and cannot get enough. They are owned by the same peep who own the Edina Grill, Longfellows Grill, Groveland Tap and Highland Grill. So if you like those places, I don’t know how you could miss 3 Squares. I was really shocked when I read some reviews on the restaurant and was amazed that some people out there don’t like it. It baffles me. There is so much to choose from, and it’s not your average restaurant fare. They offer things that I didn’t even know existed before.

For example my husband and I cannot get enough of their Pierogies.  (Little dumplings stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Drool.) Or how about the Walleye and Shrimp cakes? Or the big chunks of Sweet Potato Fries served with pesto aioli? Or the Grilled Meatloaf with garlic and asiago cheese mashed potatoes with sauteed garlic green beans?

Pierogie Greatness.

Pulled pork quesadillas. My husband loves these.

Like I’ve mentioned, I’m a vegetarian so what do I get there? Oh let me tell you the options! If you are a mushroom lover like me the Wild Mushroom Flatbread will not disappoint! On there you will find button, crimini and shittake mushrooms with smoked gouda cheese, mozzarella cheese and tasty caramelized onions. You can get this as a meal or an appetizer to share-it’s so good. There’s also a delicious Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese sandwich that is made with sourdough bread, or the Avocado sandwich which is like a very fancy (and yummy) version of the Veggie Sub at Jimmy John’s. Now my favorite…the Veggie Burger. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You would be surprised at how many places do not serve veggie burgers. A place as popular and common as Applebee’s should serve some Boca or Morningstar burgers…but they don’t. So trust me, I was excited. Best part? It’s so good. It comes with mixed greens on it with some sweet and some spicy peppers. My husband always gets his with a slice of pepperjack cheese on it and swears by it. But for the salad lovers out there, don’t be worried, there are a bunch of salads to choose from. One thats tasty as well as vegetarian is the Pear Salad, which has balsamic poached pears on it with oven roasted apples, greens, candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and cider vinaigrette. Is this a salad or a dessert? Both. Yum.

For the people out there who aren’t looking for anything too wild or uncommon, they do have the signature dishes we all know and love, however be prepared to be dazzled by how much better they are! Their macaroni and cheese put others to shame, and their breakfasts are often in my daydreams. (And they serve breakfast all day so you don’t have to go to Perkins to get your fix anymore!)

Fresh Strawberry French Toast!

My friend had this Brie & Spinach Frittata and said it was good!

Now onto the important stuff. Alcohol. They have a banging bar! It’s fully loaded and ready to get you to your happy place. What my husband and I love is that they serve every kind of Summit you can imagine, and it’s affordable. At $4 on tab, you cannot beat this. Especially since they also serve IPA (which is almost 9% alcohol content!) on tab as well.

And if you come during Happy Hour (everyday 3-6, or 9-close) you can get it even cheaper and $3 off your appetizers! (Pierogies and beer? Yes please.) As if this wasn’t good enough, all day Tuesday they have half off wine. (And they have an extensive list of wines for your pleasure.)

Other little things I love? The patio. The towels instead of napkins (how conservative!). The homemade lemonade with unlimited refills for $3. The changing specials each couple weeks.  And have I mentioned the pierogies?

For anyone who is looking for somewhere new to try, give this place a chance. To the people who dined here and were unimpressed…I just don’t get it! I may as well get a cot and move into the kitchen.

For their full menu and more information check out their site.

Monday-Thursday 7AM – 11PM
Friday-Saturday 7AM – Midnite
Sunday 7AM – 9PM

Ecopolitan in the Metropolitan

My best friend G and I got to experience an entirely vegan and raw restaurant, Ecopolitan recently which exists in Uptown, Mpls. I had found this place one night while rummaging through the internet, also known as my other husband. Ecopolitan seemed very interesting. This restaurant is also a juice bar, spa, an eco-shop and a wine bar! Background: They are non-profit and pride themselves on many accomplishments, such as serving 100% uncooked, plant-based meals that are 100% organic with no additives, GMOS, or toxic processing. Seems pretty cool!

So we ventured out to try this place.We didn’t really know what to expect. It ended up being in a quaint little old school Mpls home with roughly 6 or less tables. It was very dark, lit only by one lamp and several candles and had a great eclectic feel to it. It’s as if someone went to a garage sale and brought back everything and put it into this room. None of the chairs matched, or the tables, or the napkins, or anything actually. G and I were feeling pretty hip and cool.

We drank our filtered water in reused jars and G paid for a jar to take her smoothie home in. (They have a fee for you having to take something home-which seems weird, but if you come back and bring the jar/container back they will refund your dollar. Or you can just come with your own containers. We may not be adjusted to this yet, but hey, we’re reusing bags at the grocery store now aren’t we?)

There were many interesting and intriguing options to choose from but I decided to go with the Eco-sausage pizza. The “cheese” is made of macadamia and cashew nuts, the sausage made from walnuts and the rest of the pizza was loaded with raw veggies (mushrooms, bell peppers and onions) and ginger marinara sauce. G settled for the Spicy Thai noodles, which consists of coconut curry sauce, noodles made from raw zucchini, carrot and daikon radishes, and loaded up with pineapple, bell peppers, cilantro, almonds and coconut flakes.

One word of advice? Bring your homework, business, laptop or a good reading material. G and I had no idea that we would be waiting for a very long time to be fed. Considering that the food is made entirely raw (meaning probably very fresh and on the spot) we assumed it would take a while. But a while was a long while. Dare we say 45 minutes? And this was us being the only customers besides two ladies that were already on dessert.

After we got over the wait and starting dissolving into one of your deep and probing conversations, our food arrived. It looked wonderful. It tasted…different. Mine was a good different. My first bite certainly was cautious considering this pizza was entirely raw and cold. It had a very nutty taste and a thick texture from the buckwheat crust (that is dried instead of baked-remember all raw here). In some ways it tasted “too raw” for me, in some other ways it was delicious. After the first piece I was satisfied. My body had been eating vegan, but not entirely raw so my body went into a slight shock. I knew better than to freak out my body by eating the entire thing. The next day I would eat my leftover piece for lunch, and for whatever reason it was even better than it was the day before. It really just tasted like leftover cold pizza.

G’s pasta was also different. Incredibly different. I didn’t take a bite because as adventurous as I would like to think I am, I don’t have a great experience with coconut curry. She described the noodles to me, which were cold, very thinly sliced and soft. Slightly softer than real pasta. She said overall it was good although one could never mistake this for real pasta. However, that night she got ill. ( I didn’t. Hmm. Who knows.)

We ended our experience with the blueberry “cheese” cake and folks, this was AMAZING. By far the best cheesecake I had ever had in my life. G agrees. The first bite was “Hmm, this is weird. Hmm…tangy. Hmmm.” By the third bite it was “Oh my god, this is the best thing I ever tasted.” By the last crumb it was “Why isn’t there more??” We both agreed that this cake only got better with each bite. Most desserts leave you feeling full and beyond satisfied because they are so sweet and rich. Normal cheesecake usually starts off with a few delicious bites and then turns into overload. This was cheesecake crack. Delicious. I still dream of this cheesecake.

After our meals, and paying for the leftover containers (which were biodegradable), we decided to venture through their shop. It is small, but definitely fun. There are assortments of raw and vegan desserts, snacks, sauces, and nuts pre-packaged for your convenience, juicers, books on raw/vegan lifestyles, cookbooks, CDs, DVDs, air purifiers, SAD light therapy lamps (very cool, especially for us Minnesotans), body care, supplements, art and even knick knacks and clothes.

So overall conclusion? We would both try it again. There were a number of items we would both try-including the raw vegan burger, the cold soups, and more desserts. Something to be cautious about though is to make sure you make time for this dining experience as well as bringing your own containers to bring leftovers in.

Cool side note? They also do free lectures, films, “uncooking” classes and have free meeting spaces for non-profit groups! Go to their site to learn more, and also check out their online menu which showcases their goods as well as more information on their community events!

I can’t believe it’s not…meat!

By request from my good friend J, I will be posting some great vegan processed foods. Yes, that is such an oxymoron but it is true. It would be great to be 100% all natural but it does get hard, and new processed foods make life that much easier. Of course since they are processed the most healthy thing to do is eat things in it’s most natural form, like grains, oats, fruits and veggies but we are human after-all and Americans! As a nation we have grown to expect certain foods as everyday normalcy’s, like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, bacon and the like. Since thats what we are used to, its nice that we can still be vegan and enjoy our food. Luckily, most vegan processed foods are significantly healthier for you than true meats and dairy.

You can find anything these days, soy sliced turkey, beef, chicken, chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, butter, cheese, the works. It has not been hard for me at all, and not really expensive either! Since I am buying these things instead of real meat (which is costly by the pound) I’m really not spending more money. As for the dairy, it is slightly (I’m talking cents) more expensive, but think of your health in the long run. Dairy is a huge contributer to high and bad cholesterol numbers, and soy or nut dairy has NO cholesterol. You are saving money AND your health in the long run.

So, the big questions J has are what is out there? Where do I find it? How much is it?

I don’t know about anywhere else in the States but the most common brands I find are: Tofutti, Earth Balance, Tofurky, Amy’s, Morningstar, Boca, Annie’s, Rice Dream, Silk, and Trader Joe’s brand. There are tons more out there but these are the ones I think are most common.

I swear by Trader Joe’s. (Here in MN we have locations in Maple Grove, Minnetonka and St. Louis Park.) I luckily live by one so I frequent it enough to call it my home store. I will occasionally shop at other places but I am pretty loyal to Trader Joe’s. They so far have offered me the most and best choices of vegan food out of all the groceries store in my vicinity. They are also very reasonably priced; I have found that they have cheaper prices than Target on vegan products which makes this frugal gal pretty happy. They offer so much stuff its unbelievable. There are bars, beverages, bread, candy, cookies, cereal, dried fruits and nuts, frozen desserts, produce, nut butters and snack foods that are vegan. (They also supply lists there that you can take with you that will list the vegan products, vegetarian products, gluten-free products and low fat products.) The key is to turn around the product and look for a bolded caption underneath the ingredients that says CONTAINS blah blah blah…. Almost all products have this and it should say if something has milk or dairy in it since many people have those allergies. It will also tell you if there’s wheat in it, nuts or soy (other common allergies.) This makes life a lot easier because you don’t have to stand there and read the whole list of ingredients,you can look at that one line and it will tell you automatically if you can put it in your cart or put it back on the shelf.

I find that Trader Joe’s will carry many of the product brands I listed above, but their version is superb. It tastes good and it’s the cheapest. They also offer great variety. This is where I got my BBQ Pulled “Chicken” that my non-vegan husband liked. I also purchased “Beef” Strips and “Chicken” Strips here. My favorite thing though from the “meat” section is the chicken nuggets. They are entirely made of soy and taste just like the chicken nuggets I grew up on. And it’s only 120 calories for 4 of them! Seriously! You can eat 8 and only have consumed 240 calories! Only 4 chicken nuggets from McDonalds is over 300 calories not to mention they are bad for you.

As for the other brands, you can find them at most grocery stores. In my circumference I sometimes go to Cub Foods, Byerly’s, Target, very rarely Rainbow and never Wal-Mart. But I have gone to all these places to compare variety and prices for this post.

Cub Foods: B- They have a really rather large natural/organic foods section that is full of different brands and selections. However most of it is vegetarian friendly, not vegan friendly. Of course you can find things but you have to look. (Though it’s not very hard to look.) They offer Amy’s, Tofutti, Earth Balance, Tofurky, Morningstar, Boca, Rice Dream, Silk and others.

Byerly’s: B- The only reason why this got the same score as Cub is because they offer awesome cheese. They are called “Veggie Slices” and “Veggie Shreds” and it tastes almost identical to real cheese products. I cannot find this cheese anywhere else! Of course I haven’t traveled far, but out of all the common places I have listed, they are the only ones that have it. They have other products as well that are hard to find. Amy’s Soy  Macaroni and Cheese can be found here, and damn, this is SO good. I actually prefer this macaroni to the one’s I grew up with. It tastes almost homemade for being a frozen meal. Much tastier (and healthier) than Kraft. One icky factor? Byerly’s stuff is more expensive. And you are paying for the ambiance much more than the product. I know this because I can get Tofutti Cuties ice cream sandwiches (which taste 100% like the real thing) at Byerly’s for $4.99 or go to Trader Joe’s and get the same thing for $2.99. Come on Byerly’s! Just because your grocery store has carpet!

Target: C Target does okay. They offer organic and natural foods but very slim vegan foods. This really puts them at a disadvantage because if they offered vegan food I’d probably do ALL my shopping at Target. They do offer Silk milk (which is soy milk) for the cheapest price out of all their competitors. (Trader Joe’s soy milk is still cheaper however. But Silk has the best taste.)

Rainbow: C+ They are getting on the bandwagon. They are very much like Cub…getting more health conscious to retain their customers. They are getting better although selection is still low and unfortunately they are overpriced. Everything you find here will most likely be more expensive than at Cub or Target, unless it is on sale/special.

Wal-Mart: D Terrible, terrible, terrible! The only brand I could find was Amy’s and the selection was only 4 measly rows in the frozen section. One small perk that saved them from failing? They were cheaper.

I have mentioned some tastes and preferences above but I can go into farther detail here.

Tofutti: They offer a lot of stuff man. They first came out with just ice cream (which is SO good you can’t believe it isn’t the real thing) but now have expanded. They now also offer frozen foods, cookies, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and other frozen treats. I have had their cream cheese (good) and a lot of their ice cream and frozen treats. My freezer actually always has something from Tofutti in it, because my husband eats it too! Again like I have mentioned, go to Trader Joe’s if you can for this because at Byerly’s it is off the wall expensive.

Earth Balance: I use their “butter” which is very similar in taste to margarine. I have no problem with margarine’s taste so I have no problem with Earth Balance. They also offer peanut butter and other spreads like jams but I have never seen them anywhere. I can easily find the butter but never anything else. Their website says that it can also be bought at Whole Foods, which I have yet to go to.

I cannot believe it’s not butter.

Tofurky: They offer our most common “meat”, like deli slices, sausages, links, jerky, but also have pizza. I have tried the turkey deli slices (A+ in taste) and the sausages (okay…but I’ve only had the italian sausage, not the plain).

Amy’s: They have way more natural and organic food than vegan but the stuff they do have is really tasty! It’s sick how addicted I’ve become to Amy’s burritos and macaroni and cheese. Hmmm….the mac and cheese is divine and the burrito is sooo yummy. All the burrito is, is straight up pinto beans and rice. Delish! They also have a veggie burrito with black beans but isn’t my favorite. The beans and rice one reminds me most of true Mexican food. There are also lots of Amy’s products for the vegetarian or organic food eater. The brand has soups, frozen meals, pastas, burgers, kid’s meals, pizzas, breakfast, etc.

Morningstar and Boca: Both of these are mostly just meats. They carry sausages, burgers, hot dogs, sausages, breakfast sausage, and so forth. The thing to be careful about is a lot of this stuff is veggie based, not soy based so they still sneak in dairy and/or eggs. I didn’t assume this the first time I grabbed some breakfast sausage patties and then was pissed when I got home and looked at the back of the box. Tsk, tsk. That’s why now I always make it a habit to look at the ingredients before I purchase. These will probably be your best bet in meat-like burgers and offer the most variety. I did love those nasty sausages. Damn them for not being vegan. But hey, if you are going vegetarian or just looking to eat healthier, they are great!

Annie’s: Mostly organic but they offer some good vegan options. You can also find this stocked plentiful at Cub, Rainbow, Target, etc. because it’s starting to become such a common and popular brand. I feel like they offer everything under the sun: sauces, dips, soups, crackers, cereal, and so forth and so forth. The all natural Goddess dressing is amazing. The natural Caesar dressing is really good too, and much MUCH healthier than restaurant versions without losing any taste; however it isn’t vegan.

Rice Dream, Almond Breeze, Silk, and VitaSoy: All of these will substitute milk. In taste I think Silk tastes the most like cow’s milk. But truly all of them taste good as long as they are ice cold! My husband loves Almond Breeze, and he drinks the Original, Vanilla and Chocolate flavors. He even mixes it with his coffee! So what is the difference and point of rice milk, almond milk or soy milk? Well it’s all preference in my opinion. They all taste very similar, but since I already consume so much soy in my daily diet I try to drink rice or almond milk just to get a different source of protein in my body.

Of course there are normal everyday things too that you can find that will fit into your vegan lifestyle. For example I can still eat most breads/bagels, most cereals, a lot of chips and crackers, obviously all fruits and veggies and even some treats! Did you know Oreo’s are vegan? That yummy white creme center isn’t even made of dairy! It’s soy milk!! Read the ingredients yourself and be amazed! A lot of things in your pantry are probably already vegan so you don’t need to worry that once you go vegan you won’t be able to enjoy some of the foods you currently eat. I’m not saying they are necessarily healthy for you, but they do fit into the vegan diet with moderation, like everything else.

Oh, and don’t forget Veggie Slices and Veggie Shreds. It’s the cheesiest non cheese you’ve ever had.

Hope this was useful! I will be back.

You can find out more about these products or order them @:,,,,,,,,,,, and my fave,