My Vegan Restaurant: Hummus Market

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Hummus Market

361 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
website | facebook | instagram

I know what you are thinking- what a boring name for a restaurant. Hummus Market. You are probably picturing some falafel bar that is good for a quick sandwich for on the go- but you would be wrong. This restaurant is located in Williamsburg Brooklyn, and is one of my sister’s favorite places to grab food. The place is vegetarian and very vegan friendly, with only a few non-vegan products (yogurt, cheese, and eggs). The place offer authentic middle eastern foods, and doesn’t even have falafels on the menu. The food is oily (in the good way) and is very filling. It is most definitely not the type of hummus restaurants that you probably have in your area.

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The menu makes it very easy to share with other people. There are several kinds of hummus that you can pick from, the shakshuka and sabich are topped with eggs, but you can ask for them to be left out to make them vegan. They come with two pitas and a spicy sauce. You can then pair it with the mix and match menu. There are several different vegetable sides that you can share and pair with your pitas and hummus. My sister got the moroccan carrots, beets, and the labneh (a strained yogurt which isn’t vegan). Each side is $7 individually, but you save a little if you get 3 or 4 ($19/24 saving a total of $3 or $4)

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The carrots are served cold and are covered in a harissa, making them incredibly spicy, I personally really enjoyed the carrots, and would of tasted great in a pita with hummus. The beets are also served cold, and were flavored with some onion, parsley, coriander, and lemon. The spices and lemon helped brighten the earthiness of the beets. We also got served a side of Israeli Salad, which was very yummy. It was a crunchy salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and onion.

If you are interested in the mix and match sort of a approach all foods are vegan except the lebnah, roasted peppers, and red tomatoes. The peppers and tomatoes have feta, but they might not be able to make them vegan as it could be pre-mixed. Ask to make sure. I also didn’t ask but you may want to make sure the tahini sauce for the Eggplant tahini is vegan as well.

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Jon got the mushroom stuffed pita. It has cooked mushrooms, harissa, hummus, pickled onion and parsley. The pita was super spicy but you could still taste all the different flavors. The bonus is that you get a little side of the Israeli Salad, so the cucumbers had a nice cooling effect. The only other vegan pita is the cauliflower pita, though some of the other pitas could be modified to be made vegan. 

The salads on the menu aren’t vegan, but could be easily made so. There is cheese in two of the salads, and the brussels sprout salad has a honey dijon mustard, which might be easily subbed for one their other vinaigrettes. The menu becomes less and less vegan friendly, but if you talk to the staff it might be made vegan. For example the farm veg cakes might be vegan if you ask for no tzatziki, but you might want to make sure there is no egg binding the veggies together. Same issue with the sweet potato latkes, which are served with a yogurt-chive sauce.

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I personally wanted to try their stuffed onions since it isn’t something that is common. I first tried stuff onions when my Mother-in-Law made them for Thanksgiving. So I was a little interested in some authentic ones. Pretty much the layer of onion is peeled and wrapped around a rice stir-fry filled with pine nuts, kale, spinach, and date honey. If you are yelling at your screen that honey isn’t vegan, I know. Date honey is another name for date syrup. Overall I found the stuffed onions too sweet for my preference, but the onions were very delicate and easy to cut through. It is truly a dish you will want to try when you are here since I’ve never seen them on a menu anywhere else.

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If you are concerned about drinks, there are few alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to choose from. There are some drinks specific to the middle east such as the Turkish coffee and mint lemonaid. There is a small selection of beers (all listed seem vegan) and wine (Bonterra Chardonnay & Run Riot Pinot Noir) to choose from, which was interesting since the setting is so laid back. The place is a sit down restaurant, and someone will take you order and bring your food out. But the setting is a perfect mix of upscale and casual. There is even seating in the back in a little garden, but it wasn’t warm enough at the time.

I would recommend this place if you are up to trying out new cuisines. Authentic Middle Eastern restaurants aren’t always available throughout the USA. And I thought there was plenty of different options and variety for any vegan. What I really like is that all the food is vegetarian, and it might not seem so intimidating if you come here with an omnivore. There is lots of whole veggies and easily recognized foods that won’t be intimidating to anyone new to vegan foods.

Sunday Reading 04-03-15 #62

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Hey guys. This week I am all thrown off. Last weekend I went to Ocean City with my husband since we got invited to a friends beach house. We went on Monday and came back Tuesday, for a little mini vacation. Then we went into Brooklyn to visit my sister on Friday night and came home late Saturday night. I have a bunch of cool posts to do about Brooklyn, a little tour guide of things to do in Williamsburg/Bushwick if you will. I went to Ocean City during the off season… so I really don’t have many good vegan tips of places to go there. I don’t know guys, the Jersey Shore isn’t my thing. Maybe I will make a travel guide about the beaches near Fair Haven where I grew up (and where Alexa is now).

It is really windy here. Some of the smaller trees have been uprooted, and the power went out while shopping! It was very weird going shopping at Target and Wegman’s with only the emergency lights on. There were also weird little things that weren’t working. Espresso machines were down, the conveyer belts at the registers weren’t working. And I feel like everyone was in a panic because of the power being out, at least I felt a little bit like there was something severely bad going on. Oddly my power is doing just fine so I can make this post of the top reads for your Sunday.

Nina Simone’s Face

I might be a little late in the game with posting this article, but it is still something good to read. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a great article about why we should care about the casting choice for Nina Simone. Many people who read about social justice is probably aware of the issue already, but Coates write beautifully and I think explains the situation that is understandable to anyone new the topic.

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Fitness Trackers Reveal the Damaging Pitfalls of the Modern Approach to Self Improvemnt

As someone who loves to track their health stats, I found this article interesting. I use MapMyRun, Ovia, and have downloaded a pedometer app in the past. Then I like to combine them all together in my Apple Health app because I love graphs. But the article points out that you can’t keep topping yourself, and that might drive some people nuts. I don’t want to say FitBit and other fitness trackers are pointless, but we need to be careful about how to we sell them.

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Excessively Candid FoodNetwork.com Recipe Reviews

Am I outing myself as a New Yorker fan? You betcha I am. I found these hilarious, and plausibly real.

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Controversial Post: Who Can Clap for That Wrap?

Emileigh from Flashback Summer has really been crushing it lately. Some of you may not know, but I love vintage clothing. I’ve largely stopped blogging about fashion mostly since I haven’t been spending much on new clothes. But I’ve showcased some vintage articles of clothing on the blog (both dresses, vintage hat, and dress). As many may know, vintage clothing has a lot of styles that might be called out today for cultural appropriation- the squaw dress, the tiki bar craze, blackamoor jewelry, and now Emileigh breaks down whether or not is culturally appropriate to wear a wrap. I like how she quotes various people with different ethnicities and background and does some historical research, and urges that if you aren’t doing the research yourself, don’t wear it.

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Arsenic & Old Lace

I rarely make cocktails from Gastronomista, mostly because I am cheap and have a poorly stocked liquor collection. But the photos of the Arsenic & Old Lace is amazing. Naturally I don’t have any of those liquors- and finding creme de violette might be hard but I will keep it in the back of my mind when looking around.

My Vegan Restaurant: Heart Beet Kitchen

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Heart Beet Kitchen

29 Haddon Ave Westmont, NJ 08108
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

I think I am cursed. I lived in Philadelphia and went vegan. Although I had plenty to eat, it seemed that once I left so many all vegan restaurants opened up. Then I move out of the Haddonfield area and what happens? An all vegan restaurant opens up within walking distance of my house. I am very glad that veganism is speading, but I do wish these places would be available when I actually live in the area. And does that window reflection look familiar? Well, I reviewed that lime green store, Espressit, back in the day, as it has many yummy vegan options.

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But let’s talk about Heart Beet Kitchen because I really do love this place. It opened towards the end of 2015. They serve gluten-free and vegan meals that are locally sourced. The place is set up so you order at the counter, you get a numbered jar (with a napkin and utensils) and sit down, and your food is brought out to you. So it is a pretty casual setting that reminds me of P.S. & Co.

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The menu is mostly raw, and is very light. I got the peanut-free pad thai, and enjoyed it. The noodles were spiralized zucchini, edamame, marinated mushrooms, carrots, purple cabbage, peppers, sesame seeds, and tossed in a sauce. The meal was surprisingly filling and perfect for lunchtime. The price was a little bit on the higher end, but if price is a concern you can easily grab any of their salads which a little bit cheaper. Note- I am not saying that the price is particularly high for what you get, it is just a little bit more than what I am use to spending on such a casual styled setting.

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There is also a wide selection of drinks to choose from. This is the first place I’ve been to that has on tap kombucha. They use locally brewed kombucha from Inspired Brews in Philadelphia. If you check out their website you might see honey listed in the ingredients. I contacted the store owner and she said that they get specially made honey free kombucha. But I do give heads up that she said that sometimes they get requests from customers for other flavors that have honey. So if you are buying a bottle, check the ingredients to make sure there isn’t any honey. On tap kombucha should always be vegan.

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Not into kombucha? They have a list of different smoothies to order from and some fresh pressed juices that you can grab from the fridge. If you want something creamy they get almond milks made by origin almond milks, a South Jersey based company. I tried their dark cacao milk and it was very tasty and rich. If you want something hot they have coffee and espresso options using beans from Revolution Coffee Roasters in Collingswood and a variety of teas. Need a drink on the go? There’s maple water and boxed water (I think).

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What I really like about this shop is the atmosphere. The owner really spent some time and money to make the place look amazing. I could picture myself coming again and getting just a drink and sitting down with a book. They are very animal friendly, and I saw people bring their dogs in briefly to pick up some food. The whole place was a big departure as I’ve gotten use to the more “junk food” vegan culture with places like Blackbird, Papa Ganache, Glory Donuts, VLife, and Dottie’s Donuts. Everything is light and super vegetable heavy which is something that can be hard to find when eating out. 

Sunday Reading 03-20-15 #61

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Hey guys! It has been weird. I think most everyone has been experiencing some warmer weather… and now snow. Well, it isn’t that big of deal, it snowed a little in the evening, but nothing really stuck except for a few flakes on some cars that were sitting in a shadow. Nothing huge, but I was getting use to not having to bundle up on runs. I don’t mind the cold as much as I hate the time it takes to get all the layers on. But yesterday I drove out to my Grandmother’s for “easter dinner” with the family. I am not a religious person, but still use certain holidays to make my way out to visit family members. I mean I love my Grandma but I hate Long Island, I even wrote a post about it 2 years ago. I made spinach florentine casserole, roasted chickpeas, cauliflower, and olives, and peanut butter blondies for the meal, and everything seemed to be good.

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Anyone using the Dysh app? It is a fun new app where you take a photo of what you are eating, rate it, and post it. I think it can be a fun way to see what vegan food people are ordering at restaurants, though it isn’t an exclusively vegan app. I started to post old dishes I’ve eaten overtime, and Alexa signed up as well. If you want to follow us check us out at ONERAWBITE and MEOWLEXA. I’m vegan, Alexa is pescitarian, so we can help you cut to the chance of what to eat at restaurants (mostly in NJ ^__~).

So what is really rad right now? Well, lots of cool YouTube video, but also PERFUME IS COMING TO NEW YORK CITY! I am excited! I’ve talked about my love of Nakata Yasutaka before (back when we did fashion posts.) Alexa and I went to see Kyayu Pamyu Pamyu in concert and she is a little crazy. But now we can see Perfume… who is a little more mature. You might of seen Perfume before, they are in the iPhone commercial and the beginning of the OK GO’s I Won’t Let You Down (which I recommend watching because it is a great video.) Along with the tour they will be releasing their first full length album in over 3 years!

Anyways I thought I would share my favorite music video by them- Natural ni Koi Shite (Fall in Love Naturally) which was released in 2010. I think it is their most unique video, since most videos is kind-of mostly special effects with singing girls. This one I find to be a bit of a jab at high end shopping culture in Japan. When we think of Japanese fashion you will probably think of Fruits, but there fashion there is pretty basic. And there is a big culture for expensive western brands, particularly the Ginza district which has all the top Western brands that we know of. Pretty much the girls shop and drop, and then reveal they are in an artifical setting, perhaps with an artificial happiness? Maybe I am reading too much into it, but technology and optical illusions is their thing… hell, their new album cover is an optical illusion! I’ve been a fan since Sweet Donuts, so I am excited about that. But truthfully I am excited for FUCKING AWESOME SHOW!

Totally stumbled upon this video. Samantha Bee talking about how if it isn’t Trump, we are still fucked with Cruz. Ugh. Yes, it is a scary time to be an American. And frankly I do get why so many people HATE Hilary Clinton. I prefer Bernie (with like 90% of the 30 year old and youngers in the USA) but I am more concerned about Trump or Cruz, and I do hear a few people say that Hilary is “worse” than them. What? How?! Anyways, I just need to get a few laughs from this dismal situation.

What a video of cocktails AND glassware?! Sign me up. I remember LOVING the idea of having my own adult home bar, probably just to own tons of pretty glasses. Do I need to mention how much I love cocktails? Part of my problem of trying new drinks is figuring out which glass. I love makgeolli but I find drinking it out of a bowl weird. So I finally found my perfect glass- a champagne flute. As a Western drinker I think it makes sense to have it for the light carbonation, and the long flute helps slosh the rice sentiment back up in between drinks.

The Brain Scoop explores what species means. She explains the version you have probably heard in school, but goes into the various ways people in the scientific field define or try to “prove” an animal is their own species. This can be important for understanding animal behaviors better or trying to conserve certain areas and animals. This is something that I’ve read articles about before, but it is nice to have all the information together in one video.

I love hearing good news about younger generations. One thing I want to try and not do as I get older is talk about how the “youths” today are going to shit. I am always hearing my bosses complain that kids don’t get outside enough or don’t know cursive, but they don’t actually know any kids directly that have this to be the case (you know, just hearing it from a customer who’s daughter told them that their grandchild isn’t taking gym *rolls eyes*) This is a quick video reading into some studies that show kids get the same amount of exercise as in the past, do less drugs, drink less, and are in general more awesome people. Yes, there is hope for the planet.

My Vegan Restaurant: Papa Ganache

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Papa Ganache

106 Main St, Matawan, NJ 07747
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

It is weird that I get so excited about vegan bakeries but always get reminded that I don’t actually liked them much? I think it has to do with the fact I grew up with home baked goods. I never really got the prepackaged cupcakes or cookies, so maybe I lust after bakeries since it was something my friends always did. Or maybe it is because I grew up in a very heavy Italian area and just never liked those cookies? Or that I am super specific about what I want from a baked good? Who knows, but what I do know is that we need someone else to bake a cake for special occasions from time to time. When I had my wedding, I remember trying to find a place to bake our cake, I wanted to go with a vegan only bakery. There wasn’t anything nearby so we went with a regular bakery that was happy to make a vegan cake, and it was awesome. But if this place was open at the time, I would of been super happy to have the cake made by them.

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Papa Ganache is located in Matawan New Jersey near one of Alexa’s favorite bars, so you could always plan a dinner of cupcakes and grab some beers afterwards. The store participated in Cupcake Wars, and have won! It is the People’s Choice Awards episode, if you are wondering. The bakery does catered events, special orders, and sells wholesale baked goods as well. They also make some gluten free goods, though they are not an exclusively gluten-free kitchen. Not into baked goods? There is a small selection of savory foods you can pick up at the store. There are some soups that you grab and go, and their website lists other meal options. We personally didn’t see many options but we came later in the day, so you might have to get there closer to lunch time or special order them.

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They have a huge selection of different baked goods to choose from, including an apple pie pizza. But seeing how they won cupcake wars we figured we should stick to their classics. They have a massive amount of cupcakes to choose from but we narrowed it down to two- the creme brulee and s’mores. The frosting was super whipped and kept it’s structure. We were pretty excited and ate the cupcakes fast, but if you are eating there, I would recommend letting your cupcakes sit for a little bit so the frosting softens up. 

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I personally liked the creme brulee cupcake the best. I like the frosting to cake ratio. They also put a small layer of sugar on top and melted it, so you get a delicious burnt sugar topping. Alexa was a little bit bias with the s’mores cupcake since it is her favorite flavor for everything. We both thought there was a little too much frosting on top, but still super yummy. We also got a sandwich cookie for Alexa’s mother, which she seemed to enjoy a lot. mural

And if all these baked goods didn’t put you in a sugar coma, they offer lots of vegan candies. Getting a stomachache yet? I actually liked this idea because they carried Premium Chocolatiers, an all vegan candy shop based in New Jersey. They are very allergy friendly, having nut and gluten free factory. You might of seen some of their candy from Vegan Cuts but if you want to buy it person, this is a place to go. I personally find their chocolate too sweet, but are great for little kids. 

Overall, I don’t see myself going to this bakery often since I am not a sweets sort of girl. But they do know what they are doing and have classic all American baked goods. I always love the idea that bakeries give a person the option of just buying one cupcake instead of making a batch of 12. I also know where to go for my next cake for a special event.

Kimchi Hot Pot Soup

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Last Monday I was able to hang out with Alexa and try out two new restaurants. It was amazing. But one thing we talked about was our diets, cuz that is what vegans and weight lifters do. Alexa mentioned how she is eating a high protein diet, trying to get about 113 grams of protein and 150 grams of carbs. It made me think about my diet, as I have started to shift towards a very carb-veggie heavy diet. I hit my protein requirements, but I like trying out new recipes. One thing I learned in art school is that sometime making rules for your art can actually help you creatively. So you might see more protein heavy recipes on the blog. 

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This recipe was already slated to be posted on here, but it fits Alexa’s dietary requirements. High protein and low fat. I used tofu originally in the recipe, but you can sauté some seitan and stir it with the noodles, mushrooms, and bean sprouts at the end. So how much protein? Well I actually shocked myself a little once I crunched the numbers- 52 grams of protein, 63 grams carbs, and 10 grams fat!  That means 44% of the dish protein, 30% is fat, and 26% are carbs. The numbers will shift a little depending on the tofu brand you use or if you use seitan instead of tofu. The dish is pretty hearty, and is 550 calories, which might be a little too big for one person to eat in one sitting, as I can imagine with Alexa (I am usually the one cleaning a plate while she tends to just save it for later)

So where is the protein coming from? Well it is comes partly from the Explore Asian bean noodles. These noodles have particular texture so you might not want to just sub them for normal pasta. But they work well with lots of asian style dishes where they use noodles that aren’t made with wheat. That is why I think they work so well with this hot pot. A quarter of a package has a total of 25 grams of protein, making it the highest protein noodles out there…. well the same protein content as Banza chickpea noodles. I used the adzuki bean noodles, since I like the taste of red beans. The prices I am finding online are around $5 a pack, but I was able to get them at Wegman’s for $3.50, making each serving around 88¢, about 50¢ for the tofu, and $1 for the mushrooms (less if you sub for carrots or a cheaper mushroom). I am not really sure how much the rest would cost as I made the kimchi and broth at home. The other ingredients might cost a bit at first, but the last for a long time.

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So let’s talk about the soup outside of nutritional content. Let’s talk about the cultural context. So many people know that kimchi is a korean pickled cabbage. There is also a popular korean stew called kimchi jjigae. Kimchi jjigae has become so iconic and has become a popular dish in Japan- translating into kimchi nabe. The differences are subtle, but my vegan version is a little bit more like the Japanese version… with protein noodles. If you are interested about the differences, Just One Cookbook does a good job explaining all the differences.

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I’ve mentioned how I love my individual sized hot pots, or donabe have been a life saver. I admit, they are kind-of pricey. You can use other types of pots, and you can find similar things in Asian food markets for a discounted price. Take a look around. But since the dish is designed to be eaten by one person, the recipe is small. So if you are using a normal pot for everyone, adjust accordingly. It is easy enough to double or triple the recipe for however many people will be eating with you.

If you do buy a donabe for this recipe, I found a blog post about seasoning your pot! Most pots don’t come with manuals, so I had no idea this was something that needed to be done a day in advance. It will make your pots last longer and doesn’t take much effort to do.

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Sunday Reading 03-13-15 #60

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So our computer turned off and wouldn’t turn back on last week. So my husband was extremely stressed by this since we could technically afford a new computer, but it wouldn’t be the best thing for our wallets. Not to mention the computer we currently have is really sweet. Luckily it wasn’t that bad, we just had a bad memory stick and the wonderful Mac Store scanned all our memory to find out which ones were the bad ones. So we have half the RAM… but we still have 16 gigs, and I don’t notice any difference in speed. So I’ve been spending most of the week trying to catch up on blogs and articles that I’ve been wanting to read from earlier.

I am also starting to feel the spring cleaning bug. I am cleaning out my garden of all the stones so we can start planting some flowers. It might take awhile though, we have SO MANY stones in our small garden space. I am also wanting to start painting out bedroom. It was suppose to be the first room we redo along with our powder room. And now we have settled down and probably will have the time to actually start making our house FEEL like ours. And maybe even start to organize our framed art in a manner that makes sense. Most of the stuff is just smacked on random walls, partly because I was trying to wait until we painted the rooms. So maybe there will be pretty pictures of the newly decorated house in the future.

I also was able to hang out with Alexa last Monday and we will be having THREE new vegan restaurants to feature. Two in central Jersey and one from Delaware. And I just found out of a new all vegan restaurant in Collingswood, so I am pumped to try that out sometimes soon with Alexa or my beau. But Alexa started talking about how she is trying hit certain macros and I thought I would try as well. Well, I am never as close to the protein requirements that the one website calculated for me, but it has been getting me thinking about my calorie intake and protein intake. I definitely do not think this is a way of eating I would enjoy continuing, but it is an interesting way to think since I know there are some people trying to hit a large amount of proteins.

Anyways, I’ve been keeping all these articles in the same post draft to share with you guys. I hope you’ll find them as interesting as I did.

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Mermaid Ivory Stirs Controversy Over How Extinct Species are Studied

This is an interesting article talking about how a scientist who could of possibly discovered expanded territory of an extinct species. How? Well he used DNA from a knife handle that was made from mermaid ivory. I found this article really interesting as it talks about a old animal product that I’ve never heard the term for. Mermaid ivory is the tusks and bones of sea mammals like walruses and the like. It is an interesting article about the flaws in this man’s methods.

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Chow Down on a Plastic Eating Fungus

Part art insulation, part science. This is an interesting look at a potential answer to the question of what to do with all the plastic. This fungus breaks down the plastic, but the scientists took it a step further, they make meals from them. The article has two videos but has a link to their website to show some of the special tools they made to eat these fungi eggs.

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Gastropod: The Maple Boom

Gastropod is starting to become my favorite podcast. Yes, I like many others but I love how much research and technical skills go into their podcasts. But remember that review of maple water I did in the past? I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but I wouldn’t help but think there IS a bunch of benefits of maple water over coconut water (mostly economical and environmental). But at the end it made me want to pick up some more for a cocktail! This is a great episode about the all American maple tree with interesting insight for the future of the maple industry.

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In Flint, Mich., Moving The Farmers Market Drew More Poor Shoppers

A great NPR article about how a farmers market moved in Flint. It moved to a lower income area that was closer to a bus stop and surprise, people started to come. I hear a lot of people complain poor people eat garbage, and that is an unfair judgement. I’ve been to low priced markets, and sometimes they just don’t have many fresh foods. This is proof that lower income families are happy to get healthy fresh foods.

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Maybe It’s Time to Take Animal Feelings Seriously

I would say I am very interested in science. In fact sometimes I wonder why I didn’t try and study more biology, then I remember it is because I just didn’t feel like dealing with animal poop. Granted there are lots of questionable way to deal with animals to research them, but this opinion piece is pleading for scientists to start accepting animals have feelings. It seems pretty silly but I am always a little shocked to hear scientists dismiss animal behaviors, saying it is naive to assume animal think like humans. I always think it would be naive to think they are completely void of feelings.

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Women’s products cost more. Here’s how to avoid the “pink tax.”

There is a lot in this article I already knew, but it introduced me to the term “pink tax.” I do get comments from my husband how some of the things I buy are so expensive, which is funny since I don’t think I buy particularly expensive things it is just expensive compared to what he gets. It is a great article that makes you stop and think before you buy something.

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What no one talks about when they extol the benefits of fasting

Love, love, loving this article! If you are half aware of the body love movement or are aware of various eating disorders you might of read a bunch of people who are totally against fasting. And I know where they are coming from, and mostly agree. But there are various studies that show that fasting limiting calorie intake could be good for our health. This article does a great job explaining what fasting is, what type of fasting they are talking about, the short comings of the studies. A nice read for anyone who is interested in dietary health but don’t want all the worthless hype of fasting.

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SNAP Challenge Recap

Gena from The Full Helping had to take the SNAP challenge for her nutrition class. The SNAP challenge is to live off of $40 for a week per person to simulate relying on food stamps. Gena does a great job talking about the challenges other people faced, and talks about how the challenge isn’t accurate. It is very much worth the read and it thoughtfully written.

My Vegan Restaurant: Indeblue

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Indeblue

619 Collings Avenue Collingswood, NJ 08107
205 South 13th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
website | facebook | google+ | instagram | twitter

I’ve been a long fan of Indeblue. I remember visiting it with Jon and his father when it was starting out in it’s first small location, which is just across the street from their current location in Collingswood. I went with my husband and my Father-in-Law, my Father-in-Law just went nuts with ordering. I’d be looking at the menu and say I was thinking about ordering the soup, and BAM he would just order the soup for us to try without me deciding if I really wanted it or not. I don’t think I actually had a vegan dinner, as it was years ago before I was fully vegan. Since then they’ve moved to a much bigger building and had expanded their menu. They also have a location in Center City Philadelphia, but I haven’t visited it. Why would I? It is much easier to go to the one in Collingswood. So how vegan is it now?

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Very vegan friendly. They might not have a massive selection of vegan options, but there is enough that if you go in you will have some choices. We went during a Sunday for their brunch and we were pleasantly surprised. If you want to drink for brunch, prepare before hand. Collingswood is a dry town, so you need to bring your own booze. This can save you some big bucks on the overall menu. Most places in the town are prepared to make cocktails for you if you bring your own drinks. They have a bloody mary that was to die for. I loved it so much that I had to make my own at home. The only downside is that there is a lot spices in there and the drink is really thick. I didn’t know at the time that worcestershire sauce is used in bloody marys, so if you are interested, make sure you ask. You can buy it by the glass or pitcher. If the bloody marys do use worcestershire sauce, you can get orange and mango juice that you can mix with some vegan champagne.

bloodymary

What I really like about IndeBlue is that all their vegan options are labeled easily along with gluten free options. Some of them overlap. They even list things that are easily made vegan so you can just state “make it vegan” when ordering, you know instead of saying “instead of no cheese and mayo can I….” Once you look at the menu you then realise you have tons of options to pick from. I know Jon and I had a hard time picking what we wanted when we got there.

chickpeas

I got the chole bhature made vegan, pictured above. I was so hungry that I didn’t ask what made it non-vegan. The end results was super yummy, but very spicy. There is a big puffy piece of bread that I spooned the chickpeas onto. The chickpeas were in a curry sauce made from tomatoes and a pomegranate juice, balancing the spicy, sweet, and sour flavors into a delicious brunch. This was super filling, and I actually took some home to eat later.

My husband got the uttapam, pictured below. Uttapam is a lentil pancake, that comes with two different chutneys to dip into. My husband loved the savory pancakes, and appreciated having some protein in a normally carb heavy breakfast food. in fact he was a little too stuffed by the end of the brunch.

lentilpancakes

One thing I can say is that the menu can vary greatly between the Philadelphia location and the Collingswood location. A lot of restaurants do this because the cities have different markets, and it also keeps things a little interesting between the two places. It does also appear that the Philadelphia location does have a liquor license so they have a few cocktails to choose from. If you go during dinner time there is an entire section of vegetarian dishes, make it easier to select your main dish. But if you go during lunch your vegans options are very limited unfortunately.

Personally I love the idea of an indian brunch. I am not a big brunch fan, and usually favor more lunch like options. So coming here is a great compromise. And as mentioned, the vegan options make it easy to pick because nothing is more annoying than having to ask the waiter a bucket full of questions.

Vegan Snack Attack #7: Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Ice Cream

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I don’t need to do much introducing for these snacks. Most vegans are excited about the new additions to the Ben & Jerry ice cream line. I remember when first going vegan I made exceptions for Ben & Jerry ice cream, eventually phasing them out. Although I am pretty happy with vegan ice cream, my favorite being almond dream gelato, nothing filled the void of Ben & Jerry’s. They’re always packed with nuts, chocolate chunks, and various swirls. Yes, there are some vegan ice cream flavors that have these components, but they are always so sparse. So when Ben & Jerry’s made the announcement that they would be making a dairy-free ice cream I was so excited, even more so when they said they released them in February!

But I tried not to get too excited. A lot of vegan treats debut on the west coast in the United States. The company also released a statement saying they are working on distribution, and that people might not see them in their grocery stores until spring. Well, I was a little shocked when I saw these bad boys sitting in the freezer section of my local Wegman’s. I without hesitation, bought all four flavors and tried them out. The price is expensive- $5 a pint. I guess that is only a dollar or 50 cents more than most vegan ice cream flavors, but I would love to get a cheaper version that has more than one flavor (I’m looking at your Trader Joe’s! I want more than just cherry chocolate chip please!) But the good news is that everyone is excited. The cashier said she was excited about the new Ben & Jerry’s dairy free ice cream, which put me in a good mood. Then I brought my friend Justine over to grab a few for herself, and a new cashier was saying how pumped she was for the new almond ice cream. I really hope that maybe this will let other ice cream companies figure out there is a market for soy, almond, and coconut based ice cream.

So what is the verdict? Well, my husband said that he could still tell it wasn’t real ice cream. But I think it is still fairly comparable to most ice cream bought in an supermarket. Although he said that, he definitely thinks this is his favorite vegan ice cream yet. I love that they are adding more calories to almond milk ice creams since most vegan ice cream brands tend to be diet friendly. Although I like those types of ice creams sometimes I want something properly decadent.

I am a little confused why Chunky Monkey is the popular favorite ice cream. The banana flavor is really good, and it has great nut and chocolate chunks. But I am a little clueless, can’t I just make nice cream and toss in nuts and chocolate chips? Okay I know that isn’t the same, but it is a whole lot cheaper. It was good but it was never my favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor to begin with.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie was good, but I think my least favorite from the bunch. If this was the only vegan ice cream available I wouldn’t be complaining. The flavors are all there, but the texture isn’t the same as the other flavors. You need to let the ice cream sit for a while to thaw and soften up. If Ben & Jerry’s fix this problem, I would say it is my third favorite flavor.

So which was my husband’s favorite? Hands down the P.B. & Cookies. The ice cream is vanilla ice cream with oreo like cookie crumble and peanut butter swirl. The peanut butter flavor is really strong, which is good for any PB fans. At first I thought it was a weird mix, but then again I remember hearing so many people say that they like to put peanut butter on their oreos, so why not?

My personal favorite is the Coffee Caramel Fudge. I love the combination of coffee and caramel, but isn’t something I can do much now that I am vegan. Most caramel syrups in coffee shops aren’t vegan, so this ice cream really gives me my fix. The chocolate chunks make me think that they are chocolate covered coffee beans, but I know they aren’t. 

I was planning on posting this review earlier but I had a bad pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie. The pint was filled fully, so I wrote to the company. And guess what? I got a letter back that wasn’t a stock answer. They explained what happened, and gave me a coupon for another ice cream. I am pretty excited about the great customer service. So clearly our favorites are Coffee Caramel Fudge and P.B. & Cookies. I know I will be using my free ice cream pint on the Coffee Caramel Fudge for myself.

My Vegan Restaurant: Blackbird Pizzeria

storefront

Blackbird Pizzeria

507 s 6th St. Philadelphia, PA, 19147
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Blackbird Pizzeria opened up my last year of college. I vaguely remember spending my last few months of my senior year hearing about an all vegan pizza place. As many vegans may know, people get things confused, maybe they meant all vegetarian or organic. I was in disbelief that there would be a vegan pizza place, especially considering that at the time vegan cheeses were pretty pathetic (and that wasn’t that long ago!) We heard a bunch of people say things like “I THINK it is on 6th between South and Pine….” and I would walk right by the place.

So fast forward to the future, I get my shit together and go full vegan. I heard all my friends who live in New Jersey talk about all the great vegan places in Philly. Clearly I missed my opportunity to try lots of fun new restaurants. But one place that got mentioned often was Blackbird. Then it hit me- it was the pizza place that refused to believe in! In my defense, people were right in which store it was, I was just scared. When I went the first time it all seemed so familiar, walking down 6th street staring at the store front, was it even open? Apparently. And it still is.

inside

Today Blackbird Pizzeria is an important part of Philadelphia’s vegan scene. The place is always busy, and has no frills. The place really punk, and my husband and I joked that it was filled with some stereotypical punks, vegans, and hipsters. But their customer base is really diverse with a large range of people coming in. Our most recent visit included a woman who came in with her 12 month (or less) baby, several single guys, a young couple, and large group of two families. The owner encouraged some of his workers to make vegan donuts, and started a business named Dottie’s Donuts who started by distributing donuts throughout Philly. They are now going to open a shop in West Philly, which I will be sure to review when it opens up. But for now I wrote what I thought of the donuts in my review of Grindcore House.

So what should you expect when you come? Well there is take out and tables to sit at. There isn’t anything glamorous about their set up. There is one bathroom, the sink is outside of it (which is brilliant!), you can even see how they set up their soda machine. The goal of the restaurant is just to provide awesome food, not create a specific atmosphere. It is an order and sit sort of place. They will bring your food out once you order, and usually as the food is ready so don’t be surprised if you get your single pizza slices before your wings.

pizzas

So what is available? They basically have pizzas, calzones, a few pan pizzas, hot sandwiches, a few cold wraps, salads, and seitan wings. They do have some sweet sold in the store and are kind-of done at random and on a first come, first served basis. You can pre-order desserts online. One of their popular desserts is the compost cup, where it looks like a plant is growing a cup full of dirt. I assume it is made with ground up oreos. I regrettably should of gotten on for the review. The soda selection is from Maine Root Sodas, they are all pure cane sugar based, fair trade, and made in the USA.

Before I talk about the specific foods, keep in mind restaurants change their menus all the time- at least good ones. “Really?” you might think, but it is true. It is a sign that owners are willing to improve recipes, and adapt to any changes in the public tastes. So if I post saying there is a certain type of pizza and it isn’t there when you go a year from now, don’t be too surprised. I know from reading old reviews of Blackbird there was a portobello mushroom melt, and it is nowhere to be found on their current menu.

cheesesteak

Since I knew I would be making a review of Blackbird I figured it was time to try something other than the pizza. I see that Blackbird always tries to win best veggie cheesesteak in Philly, in fact they won in 2014. Apparently they changed their recipe since that victory, but it still rocks. I never gotten a “real” cheesesteak before since I was never an all meat sandwich type of girl, but this is one you shouldn’t miss. The sandwich features seitan that was made on location and thinly sliced just like a traditional cheesesteak. There is a yummy cheesey sauce with some grilled veggies in a crispy grilled roll. It is heaven. I think next time we go my husband might want to get this sandwich instead.

Other hot sandwiches? There is a chicken parm, a fried chicken sandwich, and a cubano made with tofu. They have two cold wraps if that is more your style, but truthfully you can a vegan wrap almost anywhere. Can you get a hot crunchy vegan sandwich anywhere else? Not as common.

wings

If you are the sides type of person you have a few options. You have some non-traditional healthier vegan ones like a side of sauted kale, side salad, and chickpea salad. But you if you want traditional pizza food you can get some french fries, cheese fries, or seitan wings. The wings are super noteworthy because they are just amazing. There three different sauces to choose from- smoked habanero, root beer BBQ, or spicy sweet. I assume the smoked habanero is closest to a buffalo styled wing, but I like how they have other options to pick for people who are a little more heat sensitive.

Now I’ve had vegan wings from Good Karma, and yes they were tasty, but nothing compared to these. If you don’t believe me, they were ranked as top 10 wings in the United States by PETA. They were even trying wings from non-vegan restaurants. Blackbird takes their homemade seitan and makes them have enough surface area to get a nice crispy outside. When eating them you get the same crispy and meaty variety that you would get with real wings. We were feeling a little crazy and tried their root beer BBQ and it was fantastic. I’ve always wanted to try that southern sort of BBQ that uses soda to sweeten the sauce, and I wouldn’t surprised if they got really close to that.

pizza

So now let’s talk pizza! This is what Jon and I normally get after walking 5+ miles to the art museum and back. These are honestly my favorite pizzas in Philadelphia, vegan or otherwise. I remember really missing pizza during my college days and part of the problem was that I didn’t order out often and I had high standards to live up to. The dough at Blackbird is crisp on the bottom and chewy in all the right ways. Not too much daiya (which I find most pizza places sprinkle WAY too much on) and excellent toppings. These are the various pizza’s I’ve tried, and I have yet to be disappointed.

    Balboa PizzaRoasted cherry tomato, seitan sausage, baby arugula, pumpkin seed pesto, tofu ricotta, chili flakes, olive oil
    This one is my personal favorite. It is more like an artisan pizza with the arugula, ricotta, and cherry tomatoes. It all works perfectly with each other.

    Brunchbird PizzaTofu scramble, crispy coconut bacon, sauteed spinach, garlic butter, daiya cheese
    This is the pizza that gave me the idea to put tofurky deli slices on pizza. This is a joy to eat, and you can order this any time of the week or day (I’ve heard some places make them weekend exclusive)

    Haymaker PizzaSeitan sausage, red onions, garlic butter, tomato sauce, daiya cheese, fresh oregano
    This is the pizza pictured above. My husband loves the seitan sausages. This is a great pizza for anyone who use to love a typical meat lovers pizza.

    Funghi PizzaAssorted exotic mushrooms, fresh thyme, truffle oil, garlic butter, mozzarella style daiya cheese
    I love mushrooms, so I really like this pizza. So creamy and the mushrooms were tender. I particularly like how they switch up the mushroom selection and don’t use canned mushroom. Yuck.

    Marinara Pan PizzaTomato sauce, roasted cherry tomato, fresh oregano, sliced garlic, olive oil
    I still have a soft spot for a tomato pie. Apparently it is a New Jersey speciality, and I’ve grown to like it since I can’t do the whole cheese thing. This definitely will fit that bill if you are craving some good old tomato sauce.

    Nacho PizzaAvocado, caramelized onions, Jalapeño peppers, tomato sauce, cheddar style daiya cheese
    I am still unsure how I feel about hot avocados. This was really awesome but truthfully I think I would just ask for no avocado, or have it subbed with something else