Tag Archives: coffee

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Yesterday I fudged the prompt a little to cook from a region that I don’t eat food from often- Indonesia. While flipping through the Indonesia chapter of The Asian Vegan Kitchen I saw this weird Avocado Espresso Shake. I figured I really don’t know much about Indonesian cuisine, and making it would be a fun and easy thing to do.

I am sure most people know that sweet avocado shakes aren’t uncommon in Asian culture. If you visit a boba tea shop you will probably see avocado as a flavor. When I visit a pho restaurant, my husband always gets an avocado shake. So what makes this so interesting? I’ve never seen it paired off with espresso. 

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Now the recipe originally calls for 4 avocados which seemed like a lot to me. Yeah, it makes 4 servings, but I guess if the avocados are small? It also got me wondering, are they using haas avocados in Indonesia? There are LOTS of types of avocados out there, but in America we kind-of only know about haas avocados. So I thought it would be fun to use something different- the Florida avocado.

I’ve talked about it before on the blog. Here are the basics. Florida avocados tend to be much cheaper per pound than haas. The skin is light and smooth, and it doesn’t get as dark as it ripens like a haas avocado. The size is also huge. As you can see, the avocado is as big as my hand and fingers. Since the flesh has more water and less oil than haas avocados they get the nickname slimcado. Don’t be fooled! They are not some weird hybrid created for our fat phobic culture!

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Why do I love the Florida avocado? Well, for starters, since I live on the east coast, they need less shipping than the haas avocados from California. Also, during the offseason in the winter, most avocados will be shipped overseas. But Florida avocados are just coming into season. When visiting Florida in late December all I saw were these huge avocados and citrus fruits at market stands. 

And since the flesh is a little different you want to be really patient with these guys. Cut into them too early and you get a yucky watery fatty bland fruit. But if you let the fruit get soft you can make a pretty decent guac. Cut it when it is still slightly firm, it is much easier to cut in cubes and sticks for salads, wraps, or sushi. And they are always awesome for smoothies.

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So aside from the avocado switch, I used regular brewed coffee in here. Not many people have an espresso machine, and I know we all have those days where we don’t drink all the coffee we brew. I recommend using the “sludgy” coffee bits from a french press for the strongest flavor. I love being able to reuse it since it gives the maximum flavor, and let’s face it, it is too gross to drink normally.

I will give you heads up, this shake will be really thick and oddly addictive. I wasn’t sure what I would think of the drink, but when I had my first sip, I lost my mind. It makes a great shake for the morning with lots of fats to keep you full. You get 45g carbs, 9g fiber, 16g fat, and 5g protein. You can cut down on the carbs by halving the agave syrup or using something like stevia (which then cuts down to around 13g carbs.)

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As you can see there are lots of great vitamins in avocados. I always forget how healthy they are until I plug them into Cronometer. Again, my numbers are calibrated for a 9 month pregnant lady, so the percentages are going to different for you. 

You can also fancy up your drink by adding chocolate swirls on the side of the glass. This is a common Indonesian practice, and it makes you look impressive. And if you want a thinner shake, feel free to add more soy milk or water. And you can always add more ice, though you might have a hard time blending.

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Unless you are just checking out my blog for the first time ever, you probably already know that I am pregnant. Actually, 8 months along at this point. And some people already know that most pregnant women aren’t suppose to have coffee- or rather they are only suppose to have so much caffeine. I am pretty sporadic about my coffee intake, but because I don’t have it all the time, I can accidentally guzzled too much in one day. And top it off, pregnant women have a harder time getting caffeine out of their system. I had a day or two where I accidentally drink too much caffeine and was rather jittery.

But I know many people like to drink less coffee, or can’t have any caffeine in their diet for medical reason. Because of these reasons, I was really happy to try out some coffee like products on the market. I tried to have the products in various styles to try and fill everyone’s coffee desires.

Two Quick Notes! I bought all these products on my own. So these are all my own opinions, though I never give my input about if the cost is worth it. Truthfully I like buying expensive coffee so I say all are worth the price. But if you are looking for cheap- go for the teeccino. My second note is that I don’t think caffeine is evil. I think out of most plant based stimulants caffeine is pretty awesome and safe (when in a natural state of coarse, you can overdose on the purified powdered stuff.) I am reviewing low caffeine or caffeine free products so no tea and yerba mate reviews. I also wanted the flavor to be in the same ball park but still be fairly easy to find in stores.

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Crio Bru

Website: Crio Bru.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Online Shop, & Store Locator
Style: Ghana Light Roast

What is it?: I’ve heard about this drink for awhile and have wanted to try it ever since I’ve heard of it. Pretty much the cacao bean is roasted in the same style as the coffee bean

Positives: It isn’t 100% caffeine free, which to me is a good thing. I like having a little bit of a caffeine kick, and it also provides a little bit of bitterness. It also never claims to taste like coffee so you can drink it with an open mind. But the cacao is easy to mix with coffee beans if you are trying to help wean yourself off of coffee grounds. Mixing the two also give a really awesome and unique flavor (think mocha)

Negatives: It is a little watery and pre-ground. The drink is thinner than normal brewed coffee, and I think it would help if the grinds were a little smaller. But you can’t do that since they are pre-ground.

How to Brew: I’ve tried this in many ways, pulled an espresso shot, french press, and drip. I have found the only way to drink this is by using a french press. The espresso was a watery mess, and the drip was alright but tended to have trouble filtering. The French Press will give the best full body flavor.

What it tastes like?: It tastes like a watered down mocha latte- kind-of. There is a distinct chocolate/cacao flavor going on, but you have some rich notes that give a subtle notes similar to coffee. This clearly doesn’t taste like coffee, it has a totally different flavor profile, but can fill the void of full body, bitter, hot beverages.

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Teeccino

Website: Teeccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locator
Style: French Roast, Mocha, Maya Chai

What is it?: A blend of various plants and herbs. The main ingredients being used are carob, chicory root, nuts, barley, dandelion root, and some nuts and dried fruit. There are many blends available in different packaging. There are some that are gluten free (without the barley), tea bags, loose for drip, and lots of accessories.

Positives: This is 100% caffeine free for anyone who wants it. The drink also comes in various different methods so you can either brew it at home, or have tea bags for on the go. There also many flavors which works well for anyone who might be a picky eater. This brand is also probably the most widely available coffee substitute as I found it at Whole Foods, Wegmans, and small mom-and-pop health food stores. 

Negatives: It is easy to mess up the brewing process. There have been times where I over brewed and had horrible tasting teeccino. Because of this, it isn’t so easy to mix the teeccino with coffee grounds if you are trying to get rid of caffein from your diet. The brew time is less than regular coffee, and you need much less grinds as well. I am also not a huge fan of their push for a caffeine lifestyle as they use very questionable spokes people sometimes.

How to Brew: I’ve tried many methods, and found my favorite is the tea bags and pulling espresso shots. The tea bags make it so you don’t add too much tea to the brew, and you want to use less than the average cup of coffee. Because of this strong flavor, it works perfectly for an espresso machine. I pulled a shot, added it to iced soy milk, and had a yummy latte, though it highlighted the flavors that aren’t as coffee-like.

What it tastes like?: This tastes the most like a cup of coffee. It doesn’t quite taste the same, but if you ever had a coffee-chicory root drink than you have a better idea what this stuff tastes like. It uses various grains and such that give a similar bitter flavor, but they use coffee flavorings which really give it that authentic flavor. Overall if I am craving coffee but don’t want the caffeine, this stuff is pretty satisfying. It is full bodied, full of flavor, and in some ways better than just drinking decaf coffee. Crazy? Maybe.

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Macaccino

Website: Macaccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locations
Style: Original Roasted Maca Blend

What is it?: These are blends of maca root that have been roasted to give a more coffee like flavor. Their original blend uses maca, cocoa, nutmeg, mesquite, and cinnamon, but they have two other blends. Their black reserve uses black, red, and yellow maca root along with beet powder. Their mint has a little dried peppermint leaf.

Positives: Super portable and quick to make. If you like instant coffee (ugh, so bad tasting) this is the coffee replacement for you. Just add hot water, stir, and add any creamers and sugar. Because of the powder form, it makes it easy to make other coffee flavored snacks like lattes, smoothies, and desserts. I also like how this brand promotes the use of other vegan products when making.

Negatives: It is a little gritty overall. I find that towards the end of the cup it gets a little too thick, which could be remedied by adding more hot water. Even when I make my macaccino latte, it still gets a little thick at the bottom.

How to Brew: There is pretty much only one way to “brew” and that is to dissolve the powder. You can use hot water or add mostly soy milk like I do. You can sub any recipe that uses espresso powder with this.

What it tastes like?: Just like the Crio Bru there is something very coffee like that comes from roasting the maca. But you most definitely can taste the maca flavor coming through. There is no way you could just sub the macaccino powder with just maca. As mentioned before, since it is a powder that is mixed with hot water, it does have some off the pitfalls as instant coffee does. But I would think more on par with Starbucks super finely ground instant coffee.


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If you haven’t already guessed, I love coffee. I love liquid snacks. I mean pretty much all these vegan snack attacks have just morphed into posts about coffee, liquids, and chocolate. Okay, well, I will do a spoiler and say I will be posting a review on the new Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice creams, but for now I have this coffee. What makes this drink so special is that it is nitro infused. Being the shameless hipster that I am, I am go ape shit for nitro. If I am at a brewery and they have something nitro infused on tap- I get it. I’ve heard about how some places are playing around with nitro infused coffee, and I so desperately want to find a place that serves it- which there are, I just need to get my butt to one.

But until the day I get my shit together in Philly I have this- Stumptown Cold Brew Nito Infused Coffee. I found this can at Whole Foods, which makes it easy for people across the USA to get a hold of. If you aren’t aware of Stumptown as a brand, well, it is probably because it does have a little bit of a hipster niche. Their website mostly features a sparse set up that is uber trendy. They have 12 oz of beans for $18 and tons of overpriced gift sets. They have a handful coffee shops scattered across the USA, but mostly located on the west coast.

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I am not usually the type to encourage overpriced items that appeal to people by creating exclusive products, BUT IT’S NITRO INFUSED! I couldn’t get myself to drink coffee in a can, so I poured it into a glass. There was a beautiful head on coffee, and it lasted for a good amount of time. The bubbles definitely added some great body and some flavor as well. The whole thing made me think of espresso stouts, which makes this drink a great beer substitute if you are coffee stout fan. I really enjoyed this drink, which really makes me excited to try out a nitro infused coffee in a coffee shop.

Downsides? Hands down, the price. Whole foods is selling this coffee for about $5 and I am not sure why. Let’s put it this way, I’ve bought 4 or 6 pack beers that are nitro infused for $10 or maybe $15. So what is making this coffee $5 a can? It doesn’t add up. Sure maybe there is something special. Maybe the coffee plants have people message their leaves? Maybe there is something super duper special about keeping the nitrogen in the coffee compared to beer? I don’t know.

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I probably won’t be buying this coffee again, mostly because of the price. Seeing some of the coffee shops in Philadelphia, their freshly tapped nitro coffees are cheaper than this can. If I lived in a small town and couldn’t ever get my hands on something else, maybe I would think about buying it again. Also keep in mind that some coffee shops use the nitro infusion to make lattes with dairy milk, so keep that in mind and make sure you ask before buying.

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So how about you guys? Anyone heard about nitro infused coffee? Or have tried it?


Jen – When summer starts I am so hopeful! I get so excited about my CSA, I think of all the things I am going to make, jams, pies, tomato sauce, up my veggie intake, it will be awesome. I think about all the ice cream I am going to make and eat. Ooh! And all those fresh herbs and juicy Jersey peaches. I’ll eat it all, nothing will go to waste.

Then when summer wraps up I wanna just curl up in a blanket and get as much Chinese and pizza take out and never cook again. Oh but I CAN’T do that! It is still really hot and I hate the heat, so no blanket curling. Oh and I am only half way through my CSA, until when? WHAT THE FUCK NOVEMBER! I curl up in a ball thinking about how many more Saturdays I have to go the farm and keep cooking. Then I think of the lack of ice cream I’ve eaten or made because the freezer is full of frozen tomato sauce.

Alexa – I can just never think of a favorite “summer” dish other than ice cream, which I loved year-round but there’s just something extra special about it when it’s hot out. I’m always just too hot to really want to eat anything besides a salad … or ice  cream that it never dawned on me that I might have something that I love eating at this time. But I do know that as soon as it gets to be about 60 degrees and up there’s always one thing I yearn for more than anything else in the summer time…ICED COFFEE. It’s something I especially love in late summer because it’s always so gosh-darned hot and I am constantly sweating or craving something light and delightful.

So we turn to coffee. We don’t really drink it that often for the caffeine, just more for the taste (which is nice because Jen doesn’t let herself drink bad mud water like Folgers, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures for Alexa). The bad thing is we end up spending a lot on coffee. Jen likes getting the fancy drinks from Starbuck’s Clover Machine, and she will find herself getting coconut water lattes from Whole Foods. Why the major chains? Unfortunately the coffee scene is a little bleak in South Jersey. It isn’t bad, but not great. Some of it is possibly because Jen is close to Philadelphia, so they get the die hard coffee fans (she had a friend who drove ALL the way into Philly just to go to Ultimo Coffee). But there are a few good places that she’s found near her. Alexa has a coffee maker at home and has bought beans and concentrate from her favorite local spots, but then her family uses all of it and it disappears. So she cries in a corner all alone until she goes out in the morning and grabs herself a cup that she doesn’t have to share.

Grooveground

647 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, NJ 08108
website | facebook | twitter

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Jen – Truth time, I’ve never had their drip coffee and I don’t come here often. I love Grooveground, but they are pretty far away from my work and home (even more reasons why I frequent Starbucks and Whole Foods). It is an interesting coffee shop because the owners really try and do something different. They sell lots of goods by local artists and have a used CD, DVD, and record exchanges going on. In fact, I recently bought a Cat Stevens album there. $4 for a vinyl record? Heck yeah!

They are also have a very vegan friendly menu. They have both almond and soy milk to choose from, and some edibles that are vegan. Okay, so you won’t be getting a cookie from there, but they have some savory options. Like you can get oatmeal or a bagel with PB & J for breakfast. Or for lunch they have a salads that can be modified, a hummus wrap, or (my favorite idea) a hummus panini!

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But it helps that their coffee is good too. Even though I never bought their drip, their espresso drinks are pretty darn good. I usually just get a latté or iced espresso, until I noticed they sell caramelized espresso shots. What is that? It is when the barista puts a layer of sugar in the grinds and then pulls the shot. The sugar instantly melts and infuses with the espresso. It is amazing to drink the shot by itself, but then they decided to make a latté out of it. I TOTALLY recommend getting it with the almond milk. Most of the time I am disappointed by almond milk and coffee in part because most places actually buy unsweetened almond milk, making the drink too bitter. So the mix of unsweetened milk with sugary espresso make the perfectly sweet drink. So go and check that out!

Rook

10 White Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
Other Locations: Colts Neck, Little Silver, Long Branch, Manalapan
Monmouth Medical, Oakhurst, Wall
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

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Alexa – I think we have mentioned Rook a few times before but we never truly featured it on the blog yet. It is a little hard to since they are super simple. I mean their coffee is fan-fucking-tastic but they pretty much JUST sell coffee. And it’s not a sit-down kind of place. There aren’t many options for food that seem too vegan because most of it is baked goods (definitely not vegan) or granola bars (possibly vegan?), but their coffee is all that you need.

The 'P' definitely stands for Pumpkin!! And the 'AL' is because it's mixed with almond milk. Gotta get that fall freshness going!

The ‘P’ definitely stands for Pumpkin!! And the ‘AL’ is because it’s mixed with almond milk. Gotta get that fall freshness going!

All of Rook’s coffee is fair trade and made in house, and they have distinct flavors that you wouldn’t be able to find at places like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best (which has been purchased by the Starbucks empire). We like it because the flavors are all very different from something you may find in another coffee shop as well. For example Jen loves the Turkish Coffee and hasn’t found a coffee shop yet that has it! Their coffee tastes very earthy or floral compared to a lot of the nuttier flavors out there, not that those are a bad thing! I also love that they have a list at the counter telling you all about the different roasts that they have. The staff are always very friendly and super knowledgable of each distinct coffee and if you’re like me, who frequents your favorite local spots at least 3 times a week, they pretty much know my order by now. Speaking of knowing my order…

Booskerdoo

793 River Road, Fair Haven, NJ 07704
36 Beach Rd #9, Monmouth Beach, NJ 07750
549 State Highway 35 North, Middletown, NJ
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

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Admittedly, Booskerdoo’s bakery in the shop is not vegan friendly, at least not to my knowledge. However, I’m sure if you were to order something from them (they do a lot of special orders all year long, but especially around the holidays) they would probably have no problem in making something vegan for you. The coffee is delicious and they definitely have something that Rook doesn’t – and that is a much wider variety of lattés and teas to choose from. They have almond and soy milk at the ready and don’t mind altering a recipe if you need. The staff in there is amazing, much like Rook, but I feel a bit closer to them as they shop is down the street from where I work. They also have really great and flavorful fair trade coffee that they blend in their original location and sell in each store, and their drip coffee is pretty fantastic as well. I can’t even say if I have a favorite currently…everything is just really good. I would highly recommend stopping by if you’re a coffee shop connoisseur! You won’t regret it. 

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Welcome to Vegan MOFO 2015! The first prompt is talk about what you ate for breakfast. Most people get confused about what to serve a vegan for breakfast. Who can blame them? Pancakes, bacon, sausage, yogurt, milk, eggs, french toast, what is left to eat? Orange juice and toast? So we thought it would be a good idea to show a sample of what a typical breakfast is for us, including my husband.

Jennifer

Like a true (hippie-dippie) vegan, I start my breakfast off with a glass of homemade kombucha. I like adding the gut friendly bacteria to my diet each morning, and they are supposedly most helpful when consumed on an empty stomach. So I always pour myself a glass right away in the morning and drink it while I get some chores done, like putting away the clean dishes, washing any remaining pots and pans from the night before, or prepping a lunch for my husband and myself.

If I plan on working out, I try and have a very light “breakfast.” In the winter it is usually a small muffin, chia pudding, or a simple oat, water, and banana shake. But since I am swimming in produce, I ate a quarter of a giant yellow watermelon. This gives my tummy something to burn while I do my reps or go for a short run.

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This morning I went for a run, so I had a shake when I got back. I always try to eat some spirulina in the morning to help with allergies and because it has so many good vitamins and minerals in it. There are pretty much two ways I eat spirulina– a chocolate shake or a matcha shake. This morning I ate a matcha shake. It is very simple and easy to put together since by the end of my workout I am always craving a cool drink with lots of calories.

Alexa

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This was a really fun and easy experiment for me. I’ve been seeing one of my coaches at the gym to help me with my nutrition and eating to help aid my work-outs. I told her I was mostly vegetarian in diet (still livin’ that flexetarian lifestyle) so she helped me set up a meal plan based around that. Normally for breakfast I’ll eat 2 egg whites or 1 egg and 1 egg white along with 1/4 cup oatmeal (with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil mixed in) and a 1/2 cup of berries. Jen suggested that I try to make a tofu scramble for Vegan MoFo, which I had always wanted to do because I LOVE a good scramble, but had always been hesitant because I thought mine would never live up to what I’ve had in the past. 

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Well, it was incredibly easy to make this. And it turned out pretty well too! I’ve heard several people say they add nutritional yeast, turmeric or cumin to give the tofu some flavor and that yellow color of an egg scramble. I only had cumin in the house, but I also added a bit of curry powder and chili powder to it (and later I added sriracha…because I live for that sauce). I sautéed some onions, orange bell peppers and tomatoes in with the tofu and spices as well. Normally the eggs are supposed to help with getting some protein into my body post workout, as I’ll normally take a morning class. When Jen pointed out that that tofu has about as much protein as eggs does I felt a little bit better about maybe adding this into my routine a bit more often, but in smaller portions. 

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Oatmeal used to be a very “meh” ideal breakfast item for me. When Karen said I should put coconut oil into it and mix it with berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon I first thought “hmm, that’s interesting…” . Now I’m hooked. The consistency is perfect and I love the flavor of the coconut oil with berries. On occasion, such as today, I’ll substitute the oil for almond butter instead. Both options are great and this breakfast really keeps me full until lunch time, which ranges from about 12:30-1:30 depending on when I ate. 

Jonathan

My husband is a creature of habit. My morning starts with kombucha sure, but each batch is different and I switch between types of tea to create the brew. Then my shakes and “pre-workout” food changes. Not my husband. When we first started dating he use to eat a bagel and cream cheese every single day. Then he found out that his tummy got upset by it, so he switched to oatmeal.

Boring plain oatmeal.

He was so proud of himself, he crunched numbers and found out that he would save so much by using the big container of quick cooking oatmeal. I asked if he wanted some sugar, cinnamon, anything else. Nope. Gross. I thought it might of been a family thing, perhaps his Mother and Father had plain oatmeal? When I asked about it apparently his mother doesn’t like oatmeal and his father was all “WHAT THE HECK THAT SOUNDS GROSS?!” So there is clearly something wrong with my husband.

BUT I did convince him to start adding granola to give a little boost since he was getting hungry too fast (duh, you are just eating oats!) And depending on the season, he will add some berries from our CSA or chopped apples that I prep for him. I didn’t take a picture of his oats because they are disgusting and I figured readers wouldn’t want to see naked mushy oats.

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Then comes his second breakfast. Sure I have three different stages to my breakfast, but that is really just a “workout” thing. If I don’t run or lift, I just have one shake. But my husband is a calorie burning machine and needs to have a shake to drink when he gets to work. He is pretty boring, just chocolate or chocolate peanut butter, or just peanut butter. Lately I’ve been making him peach peanut butter shakes. But today was just chocolate.

The Coffee

We are all coffee people. Jon likes to have his coffee everyday and normally just gets the Wegman’s brand to save money. Jen finds this coffee too fruity for her tastes. But on special occassions Jen will buy him a special roast, like the Royal Mile Nicaragua Mama Mina that she got him for his birthday.

Jennifer on the other hand doesn’t drink coffee first thing in the morning. She drinks her cup around 10 am, probably because she finds coffee too harsh on an empty tummy. Sometimes she makes herself an iced latte before heading out to work using Black Cat Classic Espresso by Intelligentsia

Alexa gets her coffee from Booskerdoo or Rook. She liked to get the big jar of coffee concentrate from Rook when she can, but finds that it actually disappears way faster than she would like, and is trying to limit herself to 1 coffee per day, it used to be up to 4 COFFEES on a bad (good?) day. She also loves everyone who works in her local coffee shops and wants to give them patronage because they are just the sweetest and really know their coffee. 

So that’s it guys. Three vegan breakfasts. There are two shake recipes below if you want to be like us. Anyone else out there is a little freak and eats plain oatmeal? I think my husband needs team oats allies.

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Espressit

18 Haddon Ave, Haddon Township, NJ 08108
website | facebook

When I first moved to the South Jersey area I remember all my coworkers pushing for me to check out Espressit since they had the best coffee in the area and vegan food. Sadly it was out of the way from where I lived and worked, so when I got there they would sell out of their vegan baked goods. But as the years went by their vegan goods have expanded, and expanded, and expanded! Now I would say this is a must see spot for the vegan community.

This is a coffee shop, so clearly they have vegan options for their drinks. They have vegan smoothies and options of almond or soy milk for lattes. They started offering vegan muffins and vegan snack bars. Their muffins are HUGE! They are a breakfast by themselves, or something to share with a person. There are also vegan cookies, which are also huge, and other seasonal desserts that they rotate.

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Although getting vegan muffins and cookies is pretty cool, I am mostly excited about how they have vegan sandwiches, wraps, and burritos. It use to be a rare occurrence that they would have a sandwich by the time I came in, but I guess the demand has expanded. So there is now several different options to choose from as a vegan. Everything is clearly labeled and easy to figure out what you can eat. I personally love their Indian styled burrito.

It is worth noting that their whole store isn’t vegan or vegetarian. It shouldn’t stop you from popping in and grabbing a bite. Truthfully, they are in a small suburban town where being 100% vegan would probably be hard. But it makes a great spot to meet up with omni friends. You grab a vegan burrito and they can get their chicken wrap.

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Now the menu for vegans have gotten even larger! There is a vegan hot bar! It starts after 4, but I haven’t had the joy of sampling the food. Sadly eating out for dinner during the week isn’t my thing. If their hot food is as good as their burritos and muffins then it will be well worth your time and money. I also point out that I am unsure if they are still doing it- it has been a couple of months since I’ve been there as it is pretty far from my new house.

What really makes Espressit so special is that the owner works hard to be part of the community. There are works of art hanging in the shop that usually rotate every month. There are live performances, movie nights, and more. Whenever I would pop in before work it seemed that there was always people in the area getting together to talk and catch up. This makes the place have such a great vibe, and makes it a great place to meet up and chat with someone (instead of reading a book by yourself). 

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Is anyone else dying from the heat? Nope? No one? I find it a little funny that Jon and I are probably the opposite of the popular view on temperature. Everyone complains about winter, jacks up their heat, and bundle up. While Jon and I are excited that we can keep COLD this winter in our new house. Normal people talk about retiring in Florida where it is warm, we talk about moving more and more up north. Maybe the north pole. Point is that we are horrible people and are very cranky right now because of this lovely heat.

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I also think I know why I started to drink so much. The heat. Nothing is more satisfying than an cold light beer on a hot day. And it probably helped that I would be in a small kitchen sweating bullets, having a bottle of beer would be nice temporary relief. But beer is expensive, and probably not the best thing for me. So these ice pops will have to do.

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These pops aren’t the healthiest, but they are really cheap to make. So they are healthy for your mental health (less stress about money! okay I know I’m pushing it)!  They mostly just use regular sugar, which I find dissolves fine with blender, but I divided the load a little with agave, which also helps prevent ice crystals from forming.

The only thing you’ll need that you might not have is a popsicle mold. I’m not too picky and picked up some molds from a local grocery store. They are plastic jelly belly molds, they aren’t perfect. But I like the shape, they were cheap, and I already own them. There a lots of other options out there including metal molds. But for these molds, this recipe makes enough for 12 popsicles! So I think you save a lot of money by making your own pops instead of buying something else in stores.

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The secret to these pops are leftover coffee. My husband makes coffee every morning with his french press. After he is done there is a small amount of coffee leftover that is thick with coffee soot. I always take this small amount, probably about 1 ounce, and save it in a small container in the fridge. By the end of the week I usually have a cup of really strong coffee to make something with. Even though the coffee is really strong, I am surprised how little you actually taste in these pops!

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I used some silken tofu, but if you don’t want to use that, you can try using 1/2 cup soaked cashews instead. I personally don’t like using them since they have a distinctive odor when you freeze them. It is really odd, and I personally don’t find it as annoying as my husband does. But the fats from the nuts will give a nice creaminess.

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Photos taken by Jen - around mid January.

Photos taken by Jen – around mid January.

I wanted to start this post off by addressing my absence from the blog for the past few months, not as an excuse but more as an explanation (this post had originally been started after the holiday season, and it has been a bit of a toughie to get out of my system). I have been diagnosed with Lymes Disease. I had been having a very hard time focusing on a lot of things, if not everything in general. It’s been difficult for me to keep in touch with friends and family and keep my head on straight. After many a long winded discussion with my mother about all of the things that had been upsetting me (lack of focus, forgetfulness that would seem comical to others, constant head aches/aches in my body, extreme lethargy and depression being the main symptoms) she decided to take me to get tested. She had just recently been diagnosed herself for similar reasons so it made sense for me to get checked out*. I was almost more frightened that I might not have Lymes, and if I didn’t that would have just meant that there was something else that was wrong with me. I felt broken and useless.

Once the official diagnoses came in for me it was almost a wave of relief. I had been suffering for months, if not years, with so many problems that I thought were just part of what made me me. It was and still is extraordinarily frustrating. My sense of direction was garbage (when you are having trouble figuring out how to get to the mall you’ve been shopping at forever and worked at for nearly two years you know something is off), I had no focus or drive for anything, my body was aching, and I was depressed. It was very trying for me to try and keep a schedule for art or blogging, sometimes even seeing friends. Every time I would think to myself “THIS will SURELY get done today” it almost never did. All I wanted to do was escape my current life and to know what feeling like a real person was like. Even as I continue to write this blog post itself I find that I am having trouble finding the right words to make sure I don’t just sound as if I am complaining – my end goal is to make a comic about it. It’s much easier for me to put my feelings into pictures rather than words most times. 

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storefront

Grindcore House

1515 S 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
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Grindcore House is a coffee shop that is off the beaten path in Philadelphia. It is located in South Philadelphia and take about 30 to 60 minutes to walk from Center City to the coffee shop. So why the long trek? Well, Grindcore House is Philadelphia’s only all vegan coffee shop. They are known for serving coffee, vegan food that’s savory and sweet, and playing grindcore music. 

The atmosphere is pretty laid back, and made me feel like I was getting coffee with all the visual arts major from my school (I went to the Philadelphia’s University of the Arts). There is a small area where you can order, and a small hallway leads you to a sitting area. In the sitting area features plenty of seats and couch to sit on. There is also a big bookshelf filled with various reading materials, including fiction, non-fiction, and even Marvel comic books. Despite the name, they don’t just play grindcore music, there is a wide range of metal and indie music.

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I came to Grindcore for two reasons, coffee and donuts. You can find your average selection of coffee at the shop, drip or espresso. But unlike most coffee shops you have more milk choices. You can pick between soy, almond, or coconut milk. I tried a coconut milk latte, and it was alright. I think it was mostly based on my choice of coconut milk over soy. But the actual coffee was pretty good, I would recommend sticking with soy when having a hot latte.

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The donuts on the other hand are amazing. I can safely say that no one would be able to tell the difference between a regular and these vegan donuts. They are yeasty and fluffy, and covered in a yummy glaze. Who makes these donuts? Dottie’s Donuts. 

The company was started by two guys who worked at Blackbird Pizzeria, another all vegan eatery in Philadelphia. The two started to make donuts and ship them to other coffee shops, Grindcore House being one of them. They are thinking about opening a storefront in West Philly, making a second all vegan coffee shop in Philly. I picked the elderflower and matcha donuts (the elderflower donut is pictured) Both were amazing, and will make vegans and omnivores salvate.

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Positives:
Dottie’s Donuts: I think the trip to Grindcore House is worth it just for the donuts. There are donuts available in other locations closer to center city. But Grindcore House is one of the original locations to get these goodies.

The Coffee’s Pretty Good: Despite my very “meh” description of the coffee, it is still pretty good. I would rank it higher than the local coffee shops I go to, which I have four to choose from in less than a mile radius. As mentioned I would stick to soy milk for hot drinks. There is something about steamed coconut and almond milk that never seems to work. 

Environment is Nice: If hardcore music isn’t your thing, you’ll be surprised how much you will still like this place. The music is never too loud. The store is on a corner so there is lots of natural light in the store. There was always a certain amount of traffic flow, so it isn’t awkwardly quiet.

Unlimited Selection: Okay they only have SO much food, but it was the first time walking into a coffee shop and not thinking what I can’t eat. There is plenty to choose from including sandwiches, pastries, and chocolates from other vegan companies. This is the reason why I plan on coming back over and over again.

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Negatives
It’s Off the Beaten Path: No, this store isn’t in the middle of nowhere, but if you aren’t from the area, you have to go out of YOUR way to get there. If your visiting in Philadelphia, you’ll have walk at least 10 minutes past South Street, the closest tourist site I can think of. Most of the people in the shop looked like they probably lived near the area.

Wobbly Tables: This seems silly, but I didn’t feel too great sitting at some of the tables. They swayed a little more than I liked. And probably need to be replaced. Anytime I shifted I could feel the chair joints move.

Grindcore Music: I like some heavy and intricate music, but sometimes this music tested me. It was less distracting in the sense I could of wrote, researched, studies, talked, or searched the internet all perfectly fine. But read? No way. I can’t really pinpoint why it was so distracting to read a book, but it was.

Getting There
Remember how I said Grindcore House is off the beaten path? Well, it is neighborhood that is more residential, and google maps can take you down some not so hot neighborhoods. So here is my recommendation to walk or bike all the way down 4th Street, until you hit the coffee shop. By going down 4th Street you will go down Fabric Row, pass some newly built housing, a church, and an abandoned hospital. Plus it is very easy to cross Washington, a major street in Philadelphia, from 4th Street. If you choose to drive, there should be fairly easy parking to be found.


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Today is definitely a stay inside day, whether I want it to be or not. The morning started out with freezing rain, so I am postponing my grocery shopping until the temperature goes up. And man.. is it painful. I wanted to go running this morning or go for a walk. At least I will be able to on Monday I suppose. But since I am stuck inside, I have a lot of time to read. So enjoy the articles below.

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How A Former Wall Street Trader Solved The Restaurant Industry’s Biggest Problem AND The Latest Restaurant to Abolish Tipping Offers Workers a $35K Salary Instead

Man I hate when I find something interesting but can’t choose between two articles. Recently a Pittsburgh restaurant tried to solve the tipping problem in the American restaurant industry. For anyone who is unfamiliar, usually there is a specific minimum wage for waiters, which can be lower than $3 an hour. This is done assuming that the worker will receive tips to make up the cost. Waiting tables is a very crappy job, but Bar Marco tries to give its workers a salary, vacation, and days off. The funny thing is that I am reading this article and told my husband thinking “WOW! This is great for a waiter” and his response was “THAT’S HORRIBLE! THAT’S A TERRIBLE JOB!” So even with ideal conditions, it seems being a waiter is still a shitty job, which is why I almost always tip 20%.

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Vegan Infographic

Sometimes I just love seeing numbers, which is why I love inforgraphics. And even though I like seeing numbers, I am really good at forgetting numbers. So it was nice to see the stats stacked up again to have a nice visual reminder of why I’m vegan.

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Kick Your Caffeine Habit with These 4 Coffee Substitutes

I was so happy to see this article since I am trying to kick coffee to the curb. I think I am doing pretty well, and creating a semi-structure to live by. My rule? If it isn’t good coffee then don’t drink it. The only exception to the rule would be headaches, of which I rather have coffee in my body than medication with caffeine in it. I would love to give some of these a taste, to feed my desire for a complex nutty and bitter drink. I am a little surprised they didn’t include Crio Bru, cocoa beans that are roasted like coffee.

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#marginalizED

I am loving this project idea. So I am sharing it in hopes that some see it and check it out to share their story. The idea? To show that eating disorders hit more people than just white middle class cisgender female. 

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7 cultural concepts we don’t have in the U.S.

Culture, it shapes how we view the world. Here is a list of different ideas that are more common outside of the US. I would probably would say the ideas mentioned in the article are available in the US, but don’t have a proper word to convey them. Or would be viewed as being “hippie dippie.”

When You Burn Fat Where Does It Go?

When I first saw the title for this sci show video I had a big “Duh! You break it down for energy.” But I quickly realized how short sighted that thought was. I mean you break the bonds to create energy, the matter doesn’t get destroyed to make it. So what does happen? Well, the answer is pretty poetic, and I LOVE it! Now I will always be thinking about breathing out “energy” when working out.