Tag Archives: vegan

I love cake! It was always my favorite dessert as a kid- next to ice cream (for obvious reasons?). I never quite could relate to friends who thought cake was lame. I always had homemade cakes for my birthday. My favorite part was the actual cake part, not the frosting. Having a good frosting is especially important, and something I always remember is my friends having really gross cakes and frosting (probably because they would get cheap sheet cakes with Crisco frosting. Yuck.). 

I also remember admiring The Cake Bible. Baking seemed fun and exciting. But as I got older, it seemed that the American baked goods scene was boring. It is dominated with desserts that are made to taste like other things (like french toast covered in crushed sugary cereals, PB&J flavored everything, birthday cake flavored cookies, etc) or cakes that look like other objects. Nothing compared to the creativity with edible ingredients found in The Cake Bible (hello meringue swans on a blueberry jam pond)

Then Jon and I started to watch The Great British Bake Off. I fell back in love. I loved learning about all the different cakes, pastries, and desserts. Even the savory dishes were fun, mostly when they didn’t involve meat. It got me wondering, what about America? Do we have distinctive desserts?

I heard about American Cake from the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. I knew I needed that book. It combined so many things I loved, history and cakes. I also knew these cakes wouldn’t be vegan, so I would have to alter the recipes.

I originally was going to make this into a project for Vegan MOFO, but decided to post as I go along in the book. I won’t be making every single cake in the book. Some I am honestly not sure how to make vegan, or rather not sure how similar it would end up being to the original. For example there is an early colonial cheesecake that uses ricotta cheese. Do I bother trying to recreate that? Also there are three or four different pound cakes. Should I even bother? And don’t even get me started with angel food cake.

So follow me in my journey. I will either post about my adventures trying to make the cakes, and if possible, I will share my recipe. I naturally started with the first cake recipe, and one of my favorite types of cake- Gingerbread Cake. Hopefully, I will post it soon.

Recipes:

Applesauce Cake
Blackstrap Spiced Cake
Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake
Cowboy Cake
Election Cake
The Wacky Cake


Yes, it is possible! I do have blog posts that aren’t about babies! Well, this recipe came about because my husband needed a little extra help while getting ready for work in the morning. But I am usually feeding a baby or asleep in bed anymore. So being able to help out is a little hard. I’ve been hoarding protein mixes for myself to make the smoothie process faster with a baby. Just add milk, DHA, banana, ice, and scoop of powder. I wanted to save it for myself, plus my husband probably would want something more calorically dense. So I did the math and figured out how to take everything in his normal morning shake and put it in one mix.

I figured this would be a great thing to share, even if it is pretty basic. Since I had a baby strapped onto me, I just used my iPhone for the photos. Things are getting a little better. He is starting to prefer being in the swing by himself over being strapped to me, which I am okay with.

A quick note- the recipe makes about 5 smoothies, which is just enough for the work week. The photos show me making a double recipe… sort of. For the photos I had leave out some of the oats. Doubling the recipe BARELY fits in a mason jar. So just keep that in mind. The recipe also includes ways to customize the mix.

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Animo

210 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
1701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
website | facebook haddonfield | facebook philadelphia | instagram | twitter

I am actually a little surprised it took me so long to post this review. See I use to work at Animo I guess around 2 years ago. I worked there for quite sometime actually, and I really miss the food. Vegan MOFO has the prompt of “Where do you eat when you want someone else to cook for you?” and the answer is nowhere. I usually have enough leftovers in the fridge or freezer to hold us off. We tend to find take out too much of a burden to do. The closest we get is me making a pizza from store bought dough or possibly Chinese take out.

But then I thought about the days of when I worked at Animo. If I ended up closing I would take home some burritos for Jon and I to eat. When I first started to work there they had free food for employees, which meant I would have their fresh juices, smoothies, and salad whenever I wanted. It was pretty nice. I would even sometime suppliment some of the meals there. If I had some soy yogurt, I would toss in some fresh fruit.

So let’s start with the basics- there are two locations for Animo. They have their original location in Haddonfield, NJ, but they have expanded into Philadelphia. I would recommend checking out the Haddonfield location since the Philadelphia location is always packed and is usually visited by office workers grabbing their lunch. Both locations differ, as I think the Philadelphia location tends to have more on location baked goods and special events.

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The stores are not exclusively vegan. Sorry. But it is very easily customizable. The staff is usually pretty knowledgeable about what vegan means and will help you make your meal vegan. They don’t do fake vegan cheese or sour cream, but the flavors are really intense and you don’t need it.

The basic vegan ordering low down- the smoothies have yogurt in them. Ask for no yogurt or to sub with soy milk. The protein shakes are actually vegan by nature! They will probably ask what type of milk you want, cows, soy, or unsweetened almond. If they don’t, they defaulted to the soy. The protein powder is soy based unless you specifically ask for whey. They have acai bowls and special banana ice cream, both have no dairy in them. For the breakfast foods, you have a choice between their oatmeal or a peanut butter banana burrito.

Now for the burritos. My favorite thing about Animo is that they have two burrito sizes! You can get the full size burrito, or the ‘petito.’ A petito is about half the size of a normal burrito. So if you think Chipotle’s burritos are two meals, you’ll enjoy the petito. You can get their classic “mission” burrito, without cheese, and you have the “protein” option of veggies for extra. They also have the Bank Street (with veggies), Kale and Quinoa, and the Hummus and Veggie burritos which are all vegan as well.

And what is that beauty you see up above? That would be The Border Salad. It is lettuce greens topped with guac, blue corn chips, and pico de gallo. Since I’ve worked there I have my own little preferences. I skip the cilantro-lime dressing and go straight for their homemade hot sauce. I also like to get their salsa added, and it is totally worth it to get the roasted veggies added. Only thing is that you need to ask for no-cheese to make it vegan.


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Since becoming pregnant I’ve been scoping the scene for caffeine free coffee alternatives. Yes, you can have some caffeine while pregnant, and yes, it is probably the safest stimulant to consume during pregnancy. But I drink coffee for flavor, never to wake myself up. This results in some days of me drinking 3 cups of a coffee, and none the next three days. And certain times of the year I really just crave a warm and bitter drink.

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One coffee substitute I found was Macaccino. They are pretty new on the market, and is a blend of roasted maca root with some cinnamon, cocoa, mesquite powder, and nutmeg. I can safely say the taste is unique and isn’t something I could easily whip up on my own. The cool thing is that there is some nice nutritional perks of the blend. One serving has one gram of protein, 2% of the standard calcium recommendations, and 4% of the standard iron recommendations. They even have a super serious breakdown on their website (the number cruncher in me loves all the details!) BTW no hate on coffee- it does have a lot of B2 and B5 vitamins, so isn’t totally helpless.

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When I first got macaccino I follow their directions- suggesting to put a tablespoon in 10 ounces of water, and add creamer and sugar. I didn’t like it so much served like a black coffee. It was a little too gritty for my taste. But I liked the flavors and how it was so easy to make. So it hit me that I should drink it more like a latte! It isn’t the first time I used maca in a latte, but roasting the maca really alters the flavor.

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Since it is fall aka pumpkin spice season, I thought I would break out the pumpkin spice syrup recipe I made a few years ago. Just keep in mind, the syrup proportions are suggested with the homemade pumpkin spice syrup listed below. I have found that the best pumpkin spice lattes are from homemade syrups or coffee shops where they make their own. If you are buying a premade syrup (note clear ones are usually the vegan ones) you may want less. I also used an unsweetened milk because otherwise I find it will get way too sweet.

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I am not huge on featuring a recipe that uses a specific product. I bought Macaccino on my own and really like to drink it this way. This is not a sponsored post, and these are just my honest opinions. I would love to give some alternative options, but as far as I know, there isn’t any equivalent to this yet. I used the original mocha, but they also have a mint and black reserve.

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I really like reading posts that people do of “what I ate” posts, whether it is for the day, week, lately, whatever. I figured, some people are wondering what I pregnant vegan eats in a day, so I thought I would try really hard to take a photo of my food before gobbling it all up. And share some of the nutritional information.

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Almost every single day has been a chocolate banana shake since I found out that I am pregnant. I was using spirulina (and chocolate) in the shake to up my iron, but the powder spirulina ended up being more expensive than the tablets, so I am making the switch. Which has been nice because I rarely have a “pure” chocolate shake. It’s always spirulina chocolate, fruit and chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate, etc. It’s made with soy milk, chia seeds, collard greens, some greens powder I got from Vegan Cuts, brown rice and pea protein.

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Before heading to work I made myself a small iced cafe au lait. I had leftover coffee from Rook and added some soy milk since I keep hearing how I need so much calcium. So I figured why not? Snapped a quick picture next to the flowers at my work’s garden. It seems nice and quite but there was a lot of construction going on. My boss is building a deck for her backyard and is laying lots of new cement around the building, so today was a little crazy.

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Since work was pretty all over the place, I didn’t even notice how hungry I was and had a late lunch. I had a green apple, which I always pre-chop and stashed in a Blue Avocado baggie. I love these reusable bag, because unlike Lunch Skins, these baggies have a zip seal so they are perfect for holding fruits and veggies. Sorry if I sound like they a sponsoring me, but I just really love these bags. Although if Blue Avocado approached me…. ^__~

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Clearly I didn’t JUST eat an apple for lunch. I also had some leftover Dragon Noodle Salad from Isa Does It. Since rice noodles get hard the next day I ate it hot, and tossed in a few cherry tomatoes from my CSA since I wasn’t eating it over lettuce. It is by far NOT the most attractive dish to take a photo of, but it is pretty tasty. And I even got to use brown rice noodles, so I get a little credit for a whole grain right?

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Then around three I was starting to get crabby, and was like “oh yeah, I’m hungry again.” Jon got me three months worth of Vegan Cuts boxes as birthday gift, joking that I would be a snacking monster. He was kind-of right. Each time I got one I took all the snacks and brought them into work to eat when I was running on empty. I picked this bar by Kutoa, and I’ve never had one before. It was pretty good, I liked how it wasn’t too sweet, and had some crunch from the chia seeds.

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When I got home I went for two mile run (about 3o minutes) and was hot sweaty, and still hungry. I quickly gobbled up a black bean brownie from Minimalistic Baker and took a shower. This mostly was just to hold me off while I took a shower and finished up dinner.

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So what’s for dinner? I prepped some pickled eggplant on Monday specifically for this Hummus Bowl dish. Jon and I aren’t big eggplant fans, but our CSA is kind-of having a weak year combined with they are transitioning from spring crops to summer crops. Every year it’s a little slim picking at this time, but this year seems notably bad. So I picked an eggplant, and figured I would try the pickling and roasting method. It has been… interesting? The whole bowl was a little too acidic overall, at least for acid reflux prone pregnant me. I made the hummus as instructed on the site, and tossed the couscous in some soy yogurt. Since I didn’t have any falafels, I used some frozen hemp beet burgers from Protein Ninja.

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So what does all this food look like nutrition wise? Well, I do plan on eating more. I just haven’t picked out what yet. Bagel with tofutti cream cheese? Maybe. Homemade purple basil ice cream with blackberries? Very possible. Wegman brand oreos? Yeah, that might happen too. So some of the stats are wrong, I am probably adding another 300-400 calories to my day. Plus, I am not getting the specifics for the bar I ate, and I just used a generic hummus instead of plugging all the ingredients in Cronometer. It isn’t perfect guys. But it gives you a general idea of nutritional intake. I excluded the shot of protein because I hit 100% on all the specifics, BORING.

Clearly I am not quite hitting all the B Vitamins I need, but if I eat the bagel with tofutti cream cheese I’ll end up hitting all my nutritional requirements. I was low on iron today, because well, I am not including spirulina in my diet like I use to. I am waiting for my tablets to arrive in the mail. But if I eat a bagel, I should get 100%. I have hit my requirements for vitamin C and calcium which are also common things that people stress about with diets for pregnant women.

Also, take note that I am using Cronometer to track my nutritional intake. Their information is only so accurate. Some foods don’t have all the nutritional information available. I also selected an option that changes my nutritional requirements. It recommends I have a food intake of roughly 2,000 calories, and I usually ignore that suggestion and go for more.


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One of the first concerns I had when going pregnant is how my veganism would fit into it. I’ve heard of many healthy pregnancies with vegan women, or various advice for families that are vegans. But when saying telling family that I was pregnant most asked if the whole vegan thing was healthy or not. So I did some research and tried to find some books to help. Answer? Pretty much I had nothing to worry about.

What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting
Written by Heidi Murkoff
This was a book I found at my local library book sale. For a buck, why the hell not? I clearly knew it wouldn’t be vegan but I figured I could apply the information towards a vegan diet. The book was longer than it really needed to be, and it seemed like there was a lot of repeat information. Don’t eat too much, but more importantly don’t eat too little. The author stresses the role of calcium, which is important but she recommends a dairy overload. I was a little pissed by all her dairy suggestions (aside from my personal opinion that dairy is more cruel than meat) is that she completely ignores the fact that most plant based milks contains just as much calcium as cows milk, many contain more. In her defense that wasn’t the case 10 years ago (which I specifically remember.)

What I found more confusing was her system of tracking nutrition. She stressed the following nutrients: calcium, protein, iron, betacarotene, vitamin d, vitamin b12, and vitamin-c. So to keep track she suggests tracking the servings of food for several different categories: 3 protein, 4 calcium, 3 vitamin c, 3-4 green leafy and yellow fruits/vegetables, 1-2 other vegetables, 6+ whole grains and legumes, iron rich foods (no specified servings), 4 fat/high fat foods. Confused already? I get what the author is doing, dividing fruits and veggies up by how nutritionally dense they are. Plus many of these servings will overlap, for example 1 cup cooked collard greens falls under green leafy veggies, vitamin c, and calcium. Many of the whole grains and legumes also count as half a protein serving. The book gives examples or serving sizes for qualifying foods but since the vegan foods tend to overlap it is kind-of hard to keep track of it all. I personally find it easier to just track the calories on Cronometer, but I know that isn’t always a possibility for people.

Then there are other tips, like how to eat healthy in unhealthy situations, which many vegans already know since they have to know how to eat in non-vegan situations. There is a chapter of foods to avoid, which again mostly doesn’t involve vegans since 90% of the off limit foods are cheese and meats of some sort. 

So what are the good parts of the book? Well it was very reassuring to see that healthy eating when pregnant is pretty much the same as eating healthy in general. Yes there are some larger requirements such as iron and calcium. The book also goes over information about eating after giving birth, giving really interesting information about breastfeeding. I was surprised to find out that you need more calories to breastfeed than when you are pregnant! 

This is a book I have no plans to keep. It is going to be donated right back to the library. It isn’t totally useless. The book does some reassuring that a vegan/vegetarian diet is obtainable, which is good. But I don’t like how it recommends 3 servings of protein when most of the whole grains are half a serving, so in theory getting 6 whole grain servings would fill the 3 protein serving requirements. Okay it doesn’t work out perfectly that way but I get a little annoyed when the author stresses that we get too much protein in our diet, then puts it down as a requirement in her book. Most people are probably not going to count the whole grains as half a serving and cut down on the meat.

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The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book
Written by Reed Mangels
Type in vegan and pregnancy in Amazon and this book pops up. I checked my library and they carried it, so naturally I checked it out. Sadly it was largely not helpful for me, a vegan who is pretty well educated in diet. The book largely focuses on diet breaking down most of the chapters by important vitamin, minerals, and macros that pregnant women should focus on, which are things most vegans learn about- protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iron. The only new information is pretty much zinc and iodine, which most vegans don’t think twice about.

Otherwise the author goes through the basics about pregnancy, but doesn’t go into the specifics of how it relates to pregnancy. In fact she doesn’t explain many things. There is a birth plan checklist in the back, and some questions are left unexplained. Do hospitals make you get enemas? What are they shaving?! I am still not really sure if these are optional “hippie-dippie” options or just something all hospitals do. I am going with optional since I haven’t read them ANYWHERE on ANY blog or book, and I’ve read people talking about pooping, puking, and peeing during childbirth/post birth. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That being said this book isn’t garbage. I think it is great for anyone who is looking to go vegan in the middle of pregnancy, or just started to make the transition before conceiving. It will be reassuring to parents that you read the book and your child won’t be iron deficient. As for a veteran vegan, there is no information about what types of treatments or drugs that aren’t vegan, which was what I was really hoping for.

There are some recipes in the back, which again is great for brand new vegans. The recipes are really simple and pretty tasty, but nothing amazing. I think I really liked her recipe for baked beans, but sadly involve a lot of baking (hello hot hot summer.) She also had an interesting recipe for cereal bars, which had a little more sugar than I would like, but that is a different complaint for a different day. Glad I didn’t have to buy this book and was able to just get it from the library.

Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide
Written by Sayward Rebhal
This is my dream book. Google vegan and pregnancy, this is the second book to come up on Amazon. I read the reviews and hesitated to buy it, it didn’t seem to have lots of information. This was very wrong of me. Yes, the book is very short, and very small (physically, it easily fits in a purse.) Sayward is treating you like an adult who probably picked up a few other books about baby making. She touches nutrition very lightly, which I like personally since as my review of What to Expect says, your diet when pregnant is pretty much the same before hand. 

Sayward hits the main vegan questions- what drugs can I take to deal with some of the pregnancy side effects? Oh she is listing BRANDS! Thank god! No joke, I read her blurb about heartburn, and saw her comment on tums, left the house, bought a container. She touches the topics of what treatments are vegan, and gives tips that she and other vegan parents had done. She talks about pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, and raising children. 

Downfalls? Well, the book isn’t very long, which is both nice and flawed. Yes, it made it an easy book to tell my husband to read through for any question family members might have. But I would recommend taking this book with another more clinical/thorough pregnancy book like What to Expect When Expecting. And since the book is so small it can easily get outdated. Those name brand vegan drugs could add non-vegan ingredients to them. And I know one bit of outdated information was on vitamin D. Since the book was written before the discovery of vitamin D3 that can be synthesized in a vegan form with lichen, Sayward says that all D3 isn’t vegan, and says the brand Garden of Life prenatal vitamins aren’t vegan. Since the book is so short, I doubt it will be updated with this new information.


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Cardinal Provisions

514 Bangs Ave Asbury Park, NJ 07712
website | facebook | instagram

I remember when I first started the blog, Alexa usually came to me because I had more vegan options in my area. Flash forward to today, now it seems like Alexa is sitting in the suburban vegan mecca. There are so many places I want to visit near her, but they are usually closed on the day I come to visit- Mondays. So Alexa suggested Cardinal Provisions, a brunch and lunch based restaurant. She had went before and thought I would dig it.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Visiting Cardinal with Jen wasn’t the first time I had been there. I had actually gone on Valentine’s day with Mr. Ian, and on that day I had one of THE BEST waffles I have ever had. It’s definitely on my list of Top 5…because apparently I have that sort of list now. I believe it was a special for that weekend, but hopefully it will pop up again. The waffle was covered in caramelized bananas and thin mint crumbs. 

That’s right…THIN MINT CRUMBS. 

I loved the dish because 1) it was vegan and 2) it’s not something that I have see anywhere else yet almost resembled something that I might make for myself (and think “Alexa, you are cray cray.”) I was slightly hesitant about the mixture of banana and mint flavor, but it was fantastic. I had also had the nitro infused coffee with my food that morning and it made everything even more delicious.

She was right, I loved the place. If you have ever been into New York City for brunch and enjoyed it, you will love this place. The store is very small but has a lot of personality. I am not sure how common this style of restaurant is, but you are seated, and waited on, but you pay at the end at the cashier. There are some baked goods and juices that you can grab and take with you, making it a spot to actually get a breakfast “on the go”. There are adorable vintage tiled floors, cute metal backed seats, and vintage salt and pepper shakers at all the tables. Yup, they pretty much nailed the setting.

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Just wanted to point out that Alexa wore the exact same shirt when we went to MOGO– GET YOUR BLOGGING SHIT TOGETHER!

So is the place vegan? Uh… no. But the menu is very vegan friendly. There are only about two dishes listed as vegan on their breakfast/lunch menu, and three from their brunch menu but they have little Vs next to items that can be made vegan. This is a dream come true for vegans who love breakfast foods. It even looks like about half of the kids menu is vegan as well (mostly nut butter or jam sandwich combos and some veggies) If you are looking to grab a quick breakfast, you can get their vegan croissants and some fresh juice up at the counter. Oh you heard me correctly. Vegan croissants at a non-vegan restaurant. Although this might not happen every day, when we went they actually have a daily special that was vegan. Let’s face it, how often does that happen?

A word of caution. If you want to do the traditional brunch thing and do some day drinking, you might have to bring your own booze. Cardinal Provisions does not have a liquor license, so call ahead of time to see if it is okay if you bring your own champagne for mimosas. They also have nitro infused coffee and I fucked up and missed by chance to try freshly tapped nitro coffee. Also on the menu that would quench your cocktail thirst? Kombucha, bitters and soda, green, grapefruit, and orange juices.

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So what did we get? Well, the day we went they have a special- a vegan burger on a either a roll or vegan croissant. It originally came with fries, but we were both in the mood for a side salad. The burger was topped with a pickled carrot slice, cauliflower, and artichoke. Let me tell you, it has been a long time since I’ve had a croissant, and this was much better than the ones I had in the past. The croissant was super flakey and buttery. The burger was also the best vegan burger I’ve gotten in a non-vegan restaurant. The burger was very solid, and didn’t smoosh out like most vegan burgers. The outside was charred beautifully giving a nice contrast to the flaky croissant.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Since I love the place so much, I visited again without Jenny. The other dish that I’ve gotten here also involved waffles (I’m not sure if anyone else is picking up on a theme here or if it’s just me?), but it was the vegan version of Chicken and Waffles. In place of chicken they subbed in a mushroom that they were calling “Hen of the Woods”, which I believe is just a fried maitake mushroom. I loved the texture and taste of it, and as a vegetarian I can get pretty tired of mushroom consistency and flavor. It came with a jalapeño cashew remoulade layered on top and then syrup to go on top of all of that. Again, it was another dish where I could have been a mad scientist playing in my kitchen but it magically tasted fantastic once on the plate. This dish is (luckily) on the menu all of the time. I highly recommend it. 

I also love the atmosphere like Jen pointed out. Not only is the decor really adorable, but the employees are super nice and are always willing to help you find a way to make whatever you want into a vegan friendly version of itself if it isn’t already. I haven’t had a bad meal there yet and I don’t expect I ever will.

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If you check out their website you might notice that they have both the restaurant and catering services. If you are looking to do a wedding shower, work event, wedding, baby shower, etc, they will work with all your requirements. I’ve been following their instagram account and have seen some photos of some all vegan catering jobs. Thinking about when Jon and I were planning out wedding, this would of been a great options. At the time he wasn’t vegan and I was trying to be. Cardinal Provisions would of given us a nice 50/50 menu of vegan and non-vegan options.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Last note! If you are in the market for a birthday (or any celebratory) cake, they do that as well! A friend of mine ordered a cake from Cardinal for her birthday and it was actually the best cake I’ve ever had. And it was vegan!! The cake was moist, the frosting was delicious and didn’t taste overly sugary…it was sublime. 

So we would both recommend this place if you want a fancy lunch out. It isn’t a 4 star restaurant, but not quite the place to go for a cheap meal either. If I was staying for vacation in Asbury Park I would recommend checking this place out at least once for lunch or brunch. That being said, for the price range for a lot of the nicer restaurants in this area it isn’t that much more. 


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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. 


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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.

cremebrule

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. 

smores

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.


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