Monthly Archives: September 2009

Green with Envy

At least that’s how I think you’ll feel as you read this post. You’re welcome.

I don’t think Green has ever come up in my blog before (at least not more than in passing), which is bizarre, considering that it’s been – and continues to be – my favorite restaurant since I went vegan. It’s vegan fast food – okay, maybe not fast food, but quick, comfort food – at its finest.

Green is a completely vegan restaurant in North Tempe, almost in Scottsdale, but not quite. Tempe(h) for the win! Now that I think of it, it’s really the only vegan restaurant I know of in Tempe, and maybe Phoenix. There’s plenty of vegetarian places, many of which have a ton of vegan options or are mostly vegan, but I think Green’s the only one that’s legit enough to not only be 100% vegan, but 500% more delicious than everywhere else.

Green has a mix of Asian and American options, including appetizers and salads, customizable flatbread pizzas, po-boys, sammies, burgers, stir-fry bowls, and, most importantly, the infamous tsoynamis.

This guy used to be a special, but eventually was added to the regular menu. Um, I wonder why?…

The Mexicali burger: Green’s homemade burger patty with organic garbanzo hummus, zesty nacho cheese, vegan mayo and spicy chipotle sauce. With the only side I ever order: tahini coleslaw! On an Ezekiel bun, of course! If you could have your junk food on whole grain bread for only a dollar extra, wouldn’t you do it too? There’s not much to say about this burger except that, like all their sandwiches, the flavors come together just right, providing you with a melty, gooey mess that’s as satisfyingly wonderful as it is difficult to eat without your formerly clean face becoming a casualty of the meal. The coleslaw is cool and rich, with little flecks of peanuts balancing out the creamy tahini dressing. It’s always the perfect foil to the warm and hearty sammies.

This sandwich is a special, and only a special, for now: the Tempeh Reuben!

I’ve never had a real reuben before – if you can even call a sandwich made of ground toxin- and antibiotic-laden flesh “real,” that is – but this one was amazing. Spicy, toothsome tempeh, tangy sauerkraut, and creamy vegan thousand-island dressing. Mmm.

This here is another favorite, not least because it’s oh-so-adorable name.
The Texas “moo-shroom” po-boy: “pulled” and shredded portabella with caramelized onions and peppers slow cooked in Green’s espresso BBQ sauce.

As you can see, they don’t skimp on the filling. It usually takes me a few minutes to eat the stuff outside my sandwich with a fork before I even take a real bite. Not complaining though…

The moo-shroom po-boy is even messier than the Mexicali burger. Just look at how saucy it is. (pun INTENDED!)

Although I usually order sandwiches or stir-fry bowls (their mock chicken is one of my favorite faux meats of all time!), occasionally I’m up for a pizza. My only problem being overcoming my revulsion – fear? haha – of white flour, as I’m pretty sure these aren’t whole wheat flatbreads.

Butttttt, that sentiment is pretty easily overcome when this awaits me:

Green’s namesake, the Greenza! Homemade pesto sauce (basil and pine nut) with vegan mozzarella cheese (they use Teese). This one was topped with artichoke hearts, spinach, and caramelized onions.

Here’s one that my friend ordered! The Western: Green’s vegan BBQ sauce with vegan mozzarella cheese. Jo topped hers with roasted jalapeños and mock chicken because she’s bad-ass like that!

No visit to Green would be complete without the obligatory Tsoynami (Think a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but vegan and 3265561487x more amazing).

Green makes their own vegan “tsoft tserve,” and it’s the best fro-yo style vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. And the mix-ins. Oh, the mix-ins. Imagine every vegan thing you’d ever want on a sundae at your disposal, and that’s how Green rolls. Fruit (berries, bananas, and tropical fruit), multiple forms of chocolate, various flavors of Newman’s O’s, graham crackers, vegan mocha puffs, “captain crunch,” and “berry crunch,” pretzels, nuts, ricemellow fluff, flavored syrups, and of course, PEANUT BUTTER. And not just any peanut butter, organic Maranatha peanut butter. Sometimes they even have special mix-ins, like orange pound cake. There’s about 15 pre-made combos, but I usually design my own.

Here’s the PB&J (Strawberries, PB, and graham crackers) with bananas added:

And a special: the Monsoon, which, if I remember correctly, was chocolate syrup, chocolate cake, and chocolate chips. Of course I had to add PB to it.

I wish I had pics of all the Green meals I’ve had before I got my camera, but that post would be unbearably lengthy, so maybe it’s for the best. But I can guarantee you that this won’t be the last you hear of my favorite restaurant.

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How We Love Zee Pizza!

First of all, I just wanted to thank all of my caring readers for being so supportive of me in my half marathon! Your words meant a lot to me, and for those readers who said that my race had inspired them to consider training for one, I’m so glad that I was able to inspire you to inspire yourself! In other running news, I’ll most likely be doing the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon at home in January! I guess once you start, you can’t stop! I wanna get under 2 hours!

Now to the main point of business. So, um, Zpizza is the bomb.

Recently having discovered that there’s a Zpizza in Upland, just 20 minutes away from Pomona, my vegan friend Stephanie and my gluten- and dairy-free friend James decided to have a study party with pizza pizza party (to be fair, we maybe did homework for 15 minutes…)

The only pizza I’ve had since being vegan, not counting ones I’ve made myself at home, was at Viva Herbal in NYC and at Green in Tempe (will be posting about that soon!), but NEVER before have I had delivery pizza. Classic, greasy, delivery pizza with a real crust and melty “cheese.”

I’m pretty sure Stephanie and James were in a similar boat, because we were all really freaking excited when these boxes finally arrived (we were also excited that delivery was free…)

Zpizza is unique in that, not only do they have vegan cheese (they used to have a non-vegan soy one with casein, but now they use Daiya, which is soy-free – and free of most allergens, at that – and made of cassava root! They haven’t updated the site yet, so just call your local Zpizza to make sure they now use Daiya), but they also offer whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts, and organic tomato sauce. And that’s not to mention their more than extensive range of fresh and healthful toppings! Some of which toppings you’re about to get a nice little preview…

Steph and I split a large pizza (we ordered whole-wheat, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what we got…oh well). My half was roasted garlic sauce, Daiya cheese (duh), spinach, caramelized onions, roasted yams, pineapple, and fresh basil:

Steph’s was the same, but with eggplant instead of the pineapple, and with tomato sauce as well:

And Jamesie got a nice little gluten-free personal pizza. He wanted his to be a traditional cheese pizza, so he stuck with tomato sauce, Daiya, and basil. Can’t blame him, though. Look at it!

Yeah, I know you’re waiting for the delightfully greasy, mid-bite money shot…

Daiya tastes best hot, so be sure to reheat your slices if they cool down – it really makes a difference in your Zpizza experience, I promise.

Next time, I think I’m getting tomato sauce, Daiya, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and cilantro. Oh, and actually on whole wheat this time.

Back to the pizza party. You didn’t think we could end it without dessert, didya?

What flavor? Why, only the best ice cream known to vegankind – and mankind! Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Cookie Dough!

It’s gluten-free, which I had forgotten until I saw the labeling at the store, and then I just knew I had to get it to round out our night. See picture below for humongous chunk of said gluten-free cookie dough.

Happy kids, finally feeling like typical, unhealthy college students.

A Full Vegan Runs a Half Marathon

Couldn’t resist the hokey title.

It actually kind of reminds me of the subtitle of my blog – “Former English Major, Forever Vegan” – which, coincidentally, I’ve wanted to clear up! I’m not a former English major in the sense that I’ve already graduated; rather, I switched from being an English major with a minor in Environmental Analysis (EA) to an EA major minoring in English. This clarification being made, I thought any Austenites following my blog would be happy to know that I am currently taking my English senior seminar for my minor. A seminar by the name of “Austen and the Reader.” Best. Class. Ever. Not least because I didn’t have to buy any books for it since I own an engraved anthology with gold-dusted pages, naturally. :)

The funny thing about this semester is that, on the one hand, I’m freaking out about the veritable novel’s worth of writing ahead of me in the form of my thesis and English seminar paper, but on the other, it’s a thesis on veganism and a seminar paper on Austen. And if you haven’t noticed, those may or may not be two of the dearest things in my life. So maybe I should try to enjoy myself? Just maybe?

Contrary to what I presume to be your current suspicions, this post IS in fact going to discuss that which its title promised: my half marathon!

On September 6th, my friend Chelsea and I kicked the Disneyland Half Marathon‘s butt (Obviously the picture below is the “before” shot). The end.

This was my first half marathon (before I started training this summer, I’d never run more than 5 1/2 miles at a time, and before the actual race, I’d never run more than 10!). The experience completely lived up to the hype. We started out just outside the park, then ran through California Adventure and Disneyland, wherein we were cheered on by numerous mascots and princesses. Then came the streets-of-Anaheim portion of the race that would have been somewhat tedious had the course not been lined with marching bands, cheerleaders, Hawaiian dancers, Mariachis, and the like. Finally, around mile 9 we got to run into and through Dodgers stadium and see ourselves on the jumbo-tron as you passed the camera. I ran the race with a Clif Bar pace team – which I definitely recommend for the camaraderie and security it provided – shooting for 2:15, but thanks to a final surge in the last mile or so, which I was surprised I had the energy for, I clocked in at 2:10:47.

But seriously, the race wasn’t that hard! I know it sounds crazy, but those 13.1 miles went by like THAT – even having woken up at 3:00am that morning for our 6:00am start! Race day adrenaline is one of those things that everyone tells you about, and you’re like, “um, okay, that’s comforting,” but it really is a key factor! Plus, being around so many (10,000 +) equally energized people, you really don’t notice your body or feel the exhaustion until afterwards. You’re too distracted by the new scenery, your fellow halfers, the amazing supporters lining the streets, and your own sense of determination to finish, and gratitude to be there, healthy as you are – an opportunity that a lot of people don’t receive. I didn’t even turn on my iPod.

Here’s the moment I’ve been working towards all summer! Please notice Pluto to my right:

I looked pretty good for nearing the end of mile 12, didn’t I?

A full marathon is definitely in the cards at this point, but not for a few more years. I want to get a few more halfs (halves?) under my belt.

Gluten-Free Sunrise

Two gluten-free sunrises, actually! I’m sure most of you are familiar with Nature’s Path. Not only are they an exclusively organic company, but, as far as I’m concerned, they have yet to make a bad cereal – well, I’ve only tried the vegan ones, but I’d guess that 90% of their cereals are vegan anyways, the main non-vegan offender being the occasional inclusion of honey. I lurrrve their Peanut Butter Granola and my family adores their Flax Plus, especially my dad. He has a bowl of Flax Plus with raisins and bananas every single morning of his life unless I happen to be whipping up some pancakes or muffins, in which case he can usually be prevailed on to leave the Flax Plus in the pantry. He even uses 1/2 soy milk in it! Someday I’ll get him to 100% soy milk – funny story: when I was little, my dad had read that soy is especially beneficial for young girls in early stages of development, so he started diluting my cow’s milk with soy milk, gradually upping the concentration until my little five-year-old self eventually caught on and called him out on it!

Anyways, Nature’s Path makes an insane amount of gluten-free cereals. I tried my first one – Mesa Sunrise – this summer when, with my stomach problems, I was afraid I might have a gluten-sensitivity. It turned out not to be a gluten-allergy (I still don’t know what it was!), but the “scare” got me more interested in gluten-free, or at least wheat-free, alternatives because I, like most of you, eat a lot of wheat, and too much of anything isn’t a good thing. A large percentage of wheat is genetically-modified too. Finally, even if wheat isn’t unhealthy per se, it’s not as nutrient-packed as other grains like quinoa.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when, at work at the Weil Lifestyle office this summer, one of my coworkers announced a shipment of Nature’s Path cereal samples had arrived. The chance to sample unreleased cereal from one of my favorite health food companies in the world? And gluten-free cereal? And one of them is MAPLE flavored? Um, hello!

I present to you Crunchy Maple Sunrise and Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise, Nature’s Path’s two new gluten-free options. Maple Sunrise:

As you can see, it has a great texture. Although I enjoyed the Mesa Sunrise I tried over the summer, the flakes were a little monotonous. These new cereals have flakes and various sizes of puffs. Yummy, and keeps you on your toes!

Here’s the Vanilla Sunrise, served with Trader Joe’s new Whole Grain Milk (which is also really good – have any of you guys tried it?):

I really liked both cereals, but as I’m a bit of a maple fanatic, it was obviously my favorite of the two. And yes, they are sweeter than something like Flax Plus, but sometimes that’s okay! I’d say they’re on the sweeter side of healthy. That’s a nice way to put it, isn’t it?

According to this article, they should be on sale next week (September 13th!), so go get ’em!

Dessert (and Tacos!) in the Desert

Hey guys! Long time, no blog! This post is one of the final installments of my effort to stretch my pre-college food adventures into my already-begun-senior-year life! From this point on, posts will be a bit more sporadic and infrequent. I’m sorry, but I have a one-semester Environmental Analysis senior thesis and English senior seminar among many other stressors and responsibilities. I’ll do my best though. I am baking for the Motley, Scripps College’s coffee house, and heading up the 5 College Vegan/Vegetarian Association (VIVA), so hopefully I’ll have some future posts relating to those activities…

Anyways, I drove up to school last Saturday, and one of my favorite things about the drive is my tradition of stopping at the Native Foods on the way! By the time I reached the Palm Desert location around 6:30, I was famished! What does a starving vegan with a penchant for Southwestern fare order? Um, the Tijuana Tacos, duh?!

Soy taco meat, salsa fresca, Native Cheese, shredded romaine lettuce, and guacamole in grilled corn tortillas! Yes, please! The “Native Cheese” was really good – it tasted like some sort of noochy white-bean paste. I haven’t had tacos in a while, so these hit the spot, not the least because it was pretty warm out and these were fresh and light!

I can’t go to Native without getting the Peanut Butter Parfait. I just can’t. I’ve tried.

Creamy peanut butter blend with crumbled Boogie Bars! (Boogies are Native’s glorified banana bread, complete with almonds, oats, coconut, and chocolate chips!) The menu at Palm Desert actually had a typo and said, “Creamy peanut butter bland,” but I can assure you the parfait is anything but bland!

One day I’ll have to try another dessert there, but for now, I’m good.

Also, I said that going to Native was one of my favorite things about the long, steady drive on the I-10 West from Phoenix to LA. My other favorite thing is the stark, yet beautiful scenery:

Teese-y Nachos and Stuffed Mochi

This is a multicultural post, I guess! And who knows – maybe Mexican and Japanese will be the next ethnic fusion cuisine fad.

Okay, so I didn’t actually eat my nachos and mochi together…

If y’all recall my camping post, I had about one-third of a log of Cheddar Teese to use up. It was great in the chili bake and tofu scramble, but I wanted to make something quintessentially “cheesy” with the remainder. I’m also a true Southwestern gal, meaning that my first thought was…NACHOS! And who am I to doubt my gut?

I laid out some Trader Joe’s blue corn chips on a baking tray, plopped on some vegetarian refried beans, and finally – the most exciting part – whipped out the grater and brought on the Teese! Here it is pre-baked:

I popped it in the oven at 325 F for a bit before broiling it for the last couple minutes. I wasn’t sure how well the Teese would melt at those temperatures, but I was pretty happy with the results! I finished it with a little shredded lettuce, guac, and a boatload of salsa.

Then I dug in!

As you can see, the Teese melted pretty freaking well, and it tasted awesome right outta the oven.

Moving on to the mochi! For anyone not in the loop (I wasn’t until recently), mochi is Japanese rice that’s ground into a thick paste and molded into little cakes. When baked, they puff up into little pastries! I bought my mochi at Whole Foods : the brand is Grainaissance, and I chose the Raisin & Cinnamon flavor.

I was skeptical about their puff potential when, after 8 minutes, they still looked pretty flat; but a couple minutes later, upon beholding their inflation. I was squealing with excitement, as my dad, who was working in his office down the hall, could easily confirm.

They’re not very sweet on their own (the ingredients are just brown rice, cinnamon, raisins, and salt), so I took the package’s advice and stuffed ’em!

I subbed Tofutti for the regular cream cheese and agave for the honey called for, and, well, pecans are already vegan! These little love packets were amazing! Because I stuffed them fresh from the oven, the “cream cheese” and agave got all oozy on the inside, and the flavors combined perfectly. I definitely think the mochi would have been a little plain without the filling. Speaking of the mochi, my dad and I were surprised at how chewy it was! The outside was crisp, but the bulk of it was just…ridiculously chewy.

That’s all I got, but I’ll leave you with a photo of one of the four mochi that came out just a tad bit deformed. It’s Quasi Mochi, the hunchcake of Notre Japan!

Why am I so weird?