Tag Archives: eggplant

Love Hut, Baby, Love Hut!

So Stephanie and I had a friend date Saturday night at Loving Hut, although it kinda sounds like a better place for an actual date, doesn’t it?

Formerly known as Veggie Era, the restaurant only recently joined the worldwide LH franchise–or should I say the far-reaching empire of the Supreme Master? (You’ll either know what I’m talking about, or you won’t!) Steph and I were afraid the menu would have changed for the worst, but I didn’t notice too many differences. My favorite entrée is still on it–you’ll see!

We started the meal with two appetizers, the first of which were the Tempeh Squares:

I very rarely eat battered ‘n fried foods, but this was the only tempeh on the menu. :) The sweet soy sauce was the perfect accompaniment.

The Veggie Pancake contained tomatoes, cabbage, and onions, but honestly just tasted like potatoes. Still, it was good in that satisfyingly carby kind of way. Probably not an “order again” though.

Steph had the Eggplant Tofu with Basil. I had a bite, and it was good, but I’m not generally a huge fan of eggplant in Asian cuisine. Steph’s an eggplant fiend though. It was full of vibrant colors, that’s for sure!

And behold, one of my favorite faux meat dishes of all time:

Sweet & Spicy Lady: Soy protein chunks and zucchini sautéed with garlic & sweet chili sauce.

I think I’ve posted about this dish before. The texture and flavor of that soy chicken is in-freaking-credible! Crispy and chewy and juicy. Let’s just say, I have trouble ordering anything else whenever I go to Veggie Era…I mean, Loving Hut! Ah! I’ll have to force myself to branch out next time and order something else.

Check Loving Hut’s website to see if there’s a location near you! I think the odds are in your favor. Each one has a different menu, which I find exciting. I can’t wait to try the one in Phoenix next time I’m home.

All-You-Can-Eathiopian

Truth: I kind of hate living in this part of California–in the endless sea of suburbia stretching out from the center of Los Angeles. Granted, the weather generally rocks, but I won’t be crushed in three months when it’s time to leave Claremont and start my life somewhere else. Nonetheless, as long as I am here, I sure as hell am going to hit up as many vegan restaurants in the city as I can.

This quest continued two weekends ago when my friends Stephanie and Tori and I almost effortlessly (Hey–have YOU tried driving on LA freeways?!) made our way into Little Ethiopia.

We were headed to Rahel Vegan Ethiopian Cuisine at the glowing recommendation of Quarry Girl. And we were happy we did!

Ethiopian. Good. Vegan Ethiopian. Very good. All-You Can-Eat Vegan Ethiopian for under seven dollars. Um, hello?!

For any of you who don’t know, Ethiopian food is by far the most fun cuisine to eat! It consists of various stews, a.k.a. wots, that you scoop up with pieces of injera, a spongy sourdough pancake-like bread made of fermented teff flour. No utensils are necessary. Isn’t that how we all really want to eat anyways?

My favorite wots are always the lentil ones. Rahel’s lentils weren’t as amazing as those at my local Tempe Ethiopian joint, Café Lalibela, but they did the trick. As you can see in the above photo, there were both red and yellow lentils, as well as cabbage and string beans dishes. Also, below: a carrot/potato stew, collards, and–my unexpected favorite–eggplant!

That green sauce was wayyy too spicy! But it sure was pretty.

Since the injera under our food got a bit soggy, we used additional rolls of it to scoop up the food as we ate, leaving a colorful collage at the end of our meal. I think it looks like a snowflake. An insanely delicious, savory snowflake.

I say no trip to LA is complete without a stop at Rahel. The service, atmosphere, prices, and food were all out of this world. Or at least this country. ;)

Holy Yum Yum

It’s about time I give a shout out to one of my new favorite cookbooks, which I finally got a chance to cook from over winter break. The funny thing is, this book is so beautiful and its recipes so inventive, that it became one of my favorites from the moment I bought it, months before I could actually whip up any of its crave-worthy recipes. If it’s not obvious from the title, I’m talking about Vegan Yum Yum (I’m linking to it so you can buy it right now! It’s that good…) by Lauren Ulm, author of the beloved Vegan Yum Yum blog.

As I flipped through the book, I quickly realized that my usual post-it note system for marking “must make” recipes was not going to fly. My post-it notes were running low, and what’s the point of marking every single page anyways? With a beautiful color photo (taken by Lauren herself!) for every single recipe – recipes that are not only mouthwatering, but healthful and easy – can you blame me? Plus, sweet potatoes and chickpeas abound in Yum Yum’s recipes, which pretty much sealed the deal.

My first venture into the book was before I even had the book. Let me explain: the Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta has been on Lauren’s blog for more than a year, and one chilly frigid night in Scotland, I decided it was the only thing that could warm me up, heart and soul. Incredibly simple and “super quick” indeed, this recipe has become a staple for both lazy nights and dinner parties. It’s that darn good.
The first recipe we tried from the book once it was actually released were the Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Cream, a.k.a the cutest appetizers in the world, which my mom assembled for a good friend’s birthday party. If you don’t have the book, the recipe’s here.

With preparing the eggplant, cutting all the veggies-to-be-roasted into uniform circles, and stacking everything up, these are superrr labor intensive (hehe, good thing it wasn’t me doing the labor!), but totally worth it. We had to tweak the eggplant cream a little (I think we added extra cashews, lemon juice, and salt), but once it was tweaked, it was damn good. :) These were a huge hit at the party, so make ’em if you’re looking to impress and have some free time.

This is the Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad atop some romaine lettuce. This salad was bursting with fresh, simple flavors, and the crushed toasted almonds gave it a nice crunch. I think it’d be better on its own though, but it was my decision to serve it on romaine, so can’t fault the book there. And, yes, that is an artichoke bowl.

Another recipe that really caught my eye was the Delicata Squash Stuffed with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous. Obviously, a beautiful presentation…

I used this roasted brown rice couscous from Whole Foods, and I really liked its earthiness paired with the sweetness of the apples, cherries, and squash. A drizzle of agave-mustard sauce brings it all together. Since I prepared this meal with my good friends Allison and Vince, it was all the more special!

Okay, so the next two meals may not be quite as beautiful as the former (though they’re still pretty nice looking), but they were hands down two of the best meals I’ve ever made. So just prepare yourself.

I’m serious. Are you preparing?


Italian Rice and Beans. A modest name for a scandalously good dish. This is why having a photo for every recipe in a cookbook is valuable–if I hadn’t seen the wonderful burst of color and texture in Lauren’s photo, I may have skipped this recipe!

It’s just brown rice, spinach, Great Northern beans, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon zest with a few seasonings, but, holy yum, is this good. Let’s just say I fully attribute my half marathon performance the next morning to this carbo-loaded dish’s excellence. I know everyone hates this expression (and I do too!), but this was a party in your mouth.

Aren’t the colors gorgeous? Nature is an artist.

Another colorful and unbelievably delicious recipe in Vegan Yum Yum is the Creamy Sweet Potato Bake.

Sweet potatoes, kale, and pasta (I used TJ’s brown rice fusilli), drenched in a tangy, cashew-based alfredo sauce, topped with bread crumbs (I used brown rice ones–noticing a trend here?), and baked until crispy on the outside. Comfort food at its finest.

I would make this dish again, and again, and again. And maybe again.

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.

Moussaka and Miraval

Sorry for the long absence, dear bloggies! It was a busy weekend, starting on Thursday, when I became a level 7 vegan. You know those famous recipes that stand out among the many within the vegan (blogging) community? I know you know what I’m talking about – Chickpea Cutlets, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Tofu Ricotta, Smlove Pie. I could go on, but they’re those recipes that almost every vegan has either tried, been meaning to try for as long as their (algae-derived supplement provided) omega-3-powered mind can remember, or have given up on trying because they seem too complicated. Anyways, one of those recipes is the Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream from Veganomicon. I’ve had the page dog-eared ever since I bought the book, but was always too lazy or didn’t have the time to make this decadently rich Mediterranean feast of a meal. But I’m proud to announce that I finally overcame that lameness and kicked some serious moussaka a**!

I made the sauce and pine nut cream and roasted the vegetables the night before, so the day of I only had to assemble it, which was super easy. I thought this would be a fun recipe to do a step-by-step preparation series for:

Tomato sauce and (whole wheat) bread crumb layer over the initial layering of eggplant and potatoes:

And zucchini over that:

After the second and final layer of tomato sauce and bread crumbs, the celebrated pine nut cream:

Spreadage:

Topped with pine nuts!

All golden-browned and luscious right out of the oven:

Sorry I don’t have any gooey inside shots! It was for a dinner party, and I didn’t have the time or light to snap a picture!

Anyways, the moussaka totally lived up to the hype, and my dad even said it might be the best thing I’ve ever made! The subtly cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce was to die for, and the pine nut cream was thick, tangy, rich, and downright cheesy. Who needs noodles when you can make a lasagne-like dish as good as this with only layers of vegetables? This is definitely a “make again.” Hooray for vegan milestones!

Early the next morning, and still in slight food comas from the night before (okay, maybe that was just me?), my mom, sister, and I drove up to Miraval Resort in Tucson, my mom’s favorite spa getaway!

It was my sister and I’s first time there, and I was very excited after hearing my mom rave about it the last time she went. You basically get to live in the lap of luxury for the duration of your stay, and because it’s a pre-paid package deal, eat however much, and do whatever classes and activities you like! I did Morning Yoga, Body Conditioning, Yogilates, the Evening Photography Walk, Swing and a Prayer (a ropes course challenge!), and Dream Yoga, and attended a Cooking Demo, an Introduction to Ayurveda, Tea Here Now (a two-hour class on tea that included an authentic Chinese tea ceremony!), and a class called Changing Your Metabolism. It was such a great experience, and as you can guess, I was absolutely exhausted afterwards (wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a relaxation resort?)

The food was delicious and healthy of course, with calorie counts on everything – you might think that would make eating stressful, but it was more just an affirmation of the lifestyle that Miraval represented. Over the course of two days I enjoyed a huge variety of fresh produce and salads, delicious vegetable juice blends, plenty of baked sweet potato (which I smothered with cinnamon and Miraval’s reduced fat peanut butter that’s made by blending PB with carrots), delicious mango-mint soup, and this (the one thing I got a picture of…), tofu-vegetable stir-fry with sweet plum sauce over brown rice:

I can only hope I’m lucky enough to go again someday! In the meantime, here are some cool pictures I took during my photography walk there:

This was actually a sign for the Agave Center, where yoga was held, but being the food blogger/health nut nerd that I am, I had to get this shot:

I never got a chance to go swimming, but this guy and his happy feet make me wish I had…

Mesquite pods! We have a tree in my front yard actually, and I really want to try grinding my own mesquite flour soon! They smell heavenly, especially when it rains. All sweet ‘n smoky.

The night we got back from Miraval, I wanted a quick and easy yet delicious meal–and a warm, cooked one that would address the vata imbalance I found out I had in my ayurveda class (I’m a vata-pitta by the way, but, given that like increases like in ayurveda, my vata is totally out of control and needs some kapha to tone it down…). Just ignore me if you think I’m crazy! To get to the point, it seemed like something like pumpkin soup would fit the kapha bill, so I decided to try the Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup from The Vegan Table:

I could say I followed the recipe except for a couple of changes, but that’s not really true. I changed a lot. I added a Tbs of peanut butter because I’m me. I also added extra cinnamon and cumin, and even put in some curry powder because the strong cardamom flavor was tripping me out. I generally love unique and unexpected sweet/savory combos, but for some reason, the cardamom in this soup was too much for me. And, because I hate to let a meal go by without anything green in it, I added a few cups of baby spinach. I think it’s better with the spinach actually. Without it, the soup’s a little one dimensional. Still, though, this is a good recipe! And it does benefit from a day in the fridge – as most things do, right?

Finally, my breakfast after the longest run of my life on Sunday (9.5ish miles): a young coconut!

And not just any young coconut…a frozen young coconut! I had it in the freezer because I wasn’t sure if it could go bad since I’d never had one before. I took it out to thaw before my run and assumed it would have melted, but I cracked it open to find a coconut ice ball! It sucked because I had to wait awhile to eat it, but once it softened a little, I just broke it up and it turned into a delicious and refreshing coconut slushie. It’s like nature’s icee! The true vitamin water if you will. Full of electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients, I think I’ve finally found my perfect post-run recharge meal! Screw Vitamin Water. This is vitamin water.