Tag Archives: kombucha

storefront

Heart Beet Kitchen

29 Haddon Ave Westmont, NJ 08108
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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.

padthai

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.

counter

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).

puppy

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. 


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I’ve seen a few “spooky” cocktails out there. Some do make me get the Halloween feels, but most just have spooky photos and a spooky name. Maybe these do too. But I tried to keep some “creepy” ingredients, mostly kombucha and absinthe. Why are they spooky? Well both drinks are brightly colored like many candies. Eerily unnatural if you will. Then kombucha really reminds me of the blob with it’s mother culture. You are drinking living creatures by having this drink.

Absinthe on the other hand has a more sinister history. For anyone who hasn’t had the drink before, it is composed of various plants, but the most well known ones are wormwood, green anise, and sweet fennel. So it really has a taste like licorice. It is often described as a liqueur but it has no added sugar so it is technically just a spirit. Absinthe became popular in 19th-20th century France in part because of a wine shortage (European grapes were plagues by a bacteria from the United States) and also from soldier drinking it during the war to prevent malaria (thanks to the wormwood). The drink was popular with various artists, and got a reputation for causing hallucinations. Often the effects of the drink were described as being visited by the Green Faerie. Many paintings show a poor soul drinking absinthe while being visited by the green faerie, being driven to madness. Although wormwood technically does have some psychoactive chemicals, the amount present is absinthe is minimal. Many countries banned the drink, but once proven to be no more harmful that other alcoholic drinks, the bans were lifted.

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So next question, is absinthe vegan? It should be. Absinthe is characterized by the plant based flavoring, not what is used to produce the alcohol. There is an absinthe that is made from honey, which is unusual. If you want to be safe, you can see the list of approved vegan absinthes on barnivore. There aren’t many listed, and truthfully I have only seen one of these liquors sold in a store- Lucid. And I understand that what you find at your local liquor store might vary greatly from mine, but I used a very cheap absinthe called Parnasse. I got it for roughly $14 from Total Wine and More. Would I get it again? No. Hell no! But it gave me an idea what absinthe tasted like, and I am now more willing to splurge more money on a bottle when I run out. Another way you can try absinthe are those cute little bottles of booze. Total Wine and More sells one brand- so grab it if you can get liquor shipped to you in your state. 

And what about that beautiful green color? Well, I know my bottle artificially colors it, but some companies choose to let the liquor stay clear. But there can be a natural green color, it just won’t be as bright. In the past, some companies used copper to color the drink green, which is thought to be the culprit to it’s hallucinatory reputation. So if you are looking for something more natural, look for less toxic green colored bottles.

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Ever read a recipe, and make it, but the recipe is so simple that you don’t need to look at it again next time you make it, so you completely forget where you got it originally? That happened to me with The Reanimator. I couldn’t for the life of me find the recipe, until I found it on a fluke. I knew it was in the book Let’s Bring Back the Cocktail, but where? There are so many recipes. Turns out the original drink was “Battery Charger” and I made some artist interpretations on it. Which is fine, but when I tried to find it again I was looking for all the wrong things. 

I like to pretend this is the ye-old j├Ągerbomb. I may of had one or two of these in college, but I like to point out that I went to art school. We knew why we were drinking booze, it was to get drunk. Why bother with crappy beer? But this drink is actually very different. I am not sure what Red Bull is suppose to taste like, but the red in this drink is from grenadine, you know like in a Shirley Temple. The mix between pomegranates and licorice is a big eye opener, which is why I named the drink The Reanimator. The color of your drink will rely on the grenadine you use and the absinthe you use.

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What I love about these two drink is how different they are. This cocktail I named Suspiria in honor of my favorite horror film of the same name. The movie features so many vivid colors, including green, and evil being are witches. This completely looks like some mystery witch brew. The drink features lime juice and bee free honee to flavor it. This really lets the true colors of absinthe shine through, but still working with the lime-citrus flavors. If you can’t use kombucha, feel free to just use water.

I hope these two drinks give you the courage to give absinthe a try! They are both really very different from each other, giving something for everybody. 

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asksnanswers

Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaI was recommended to eat Greek Yogurt to help with some harsh side effects of my medication, but dairy makes my tummy hurt. What are vegan options with probiotics?

Well, a fast an easy answer would be to eat vegan yogurts, but I think you deserve more options. I will go and breakdown all your options, but most might involve some personal kitchen time. You see, all those yummy probiotics in yogurt are just are a bi-product from fermentation. So I will list a few types of vegan ferments that are fairly easy to do at home. 

Quick notes- if this little post really interests you I would recommend picking up The Art of Fermentation. The book is pretty much a dictionary of fermentation styles, and will go into details about practices in certain regions. For example the chapter on pickles goes into details of different type of pickling in India, Japan, mushrooms, fish, etc. The book lacks lots of specific recipes, but gives you guides, giving you lots of wiggle room with the dishes.

There is also some basics with all type of home-ferments. Some guides seem scary and long, but most just reiterate some basics. Wash hands during preparations, wash and clean everything thoroughly, make sure all soap and sanitizers are rinsed off, and all cultures are living things. Think of them like plants, you need to take care of them, and you oddly start to like them, at take photos of them when they do cool stuff.

There are also more vegan ferments, but I didn’t list them because you need to apply heat to eat them. Some example would be sour dough, tempeh, fermented grains, etc. By adding heat, the probiotics really won’t do much for you.

Vegan Yogurts

The quickest response to a vegan yogurt option is a soy yogurt. These are now pretty widely available at supermarkets, though the price tags are still pretty high. They usually have live active cultures, but tend to have lots of added sugars. You can make your own homemade vegan yogurts, but it can be tricky. You need to keep a consistent 110 temperature, which is why some people buy yogurt machines. You will also need to buy a yogurt culture, which I am never thrilled about. Modern yogurts have mediocre yogurt cultures, and will only live so many generations before having to buy more cultures. Belle+Bella have a non-dairy yogurt starter, if anyone is interested in making yogurt at home.

Don’t want to make your own yogurt? Most stores have big containers of yogurt in plain or vanilla. I recommend grabbing one of those and mixing in granola and fruit for flavor. Want greek yogurt? Take regular store bought or homemade yogurt and strain through a cheese cloth to separate more of the water from the yogurt. Voila! Your done!

Step-by-step Instructions: Waking Up Vegan

Vegan Kefir

You might of heard about this yogurt alternative- kefir. I haven’t seen any dairy-free kefirs in stores, though there are some commercial coconut milk kefirs. So you will have to make some for yourself at home. The plus is that vegan yogurts have a hard time thickening due to low protein levels (and homemade yogurts are thinner than what we are use to, thickeners added to both vegan and dairy commercial yogurt). So consistency will be more similar to the original product.

Unlike yogurt kefir is a lot less fussy. You don’t need to monitor the temperature, and naturally has a thinner disposition. The downside is that kefir grains (the culture) really enjoy cows milk, not vegan milks, so they need to replaced after awhile.

Step-by-step Instructions: Chickpeas and Change
Note: She includes how to make nut milk, you can skip these steps if you use store bought milk.

Water Kefir

Unlike making vegan kefir, water kefir is a lot more stable. Get kefir grains once and they can last a lifetime if taken care of properly. Water kefir is made from sugar, dried and fresh fruits. Most people describe it as a probiotic soda, and there lots of wiggle room for flavor since you can switch the fresh fruit around.

This seems like a pretty low maintenance sort of culture, and would recommend to anyone who wants fresh probiotics with little work. There are two steps to the brewing process, and with some planning you can get two brews rotating (as shown in the tutorial below)

Step-by-step Instructions: Bonzai Aphrodite
To Buy Cultures: Amazon

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